Life as a financial controller
The financial controller is a core financial position within a commercial organisation, be it a SME or multinational company, and almost all companies will employ a professional in this capacity. It is a popular role amongst accounting & finance professionals, and candidates with strong experience are highly sought after by employers.
Explaining the role
A financial controller role may come across as routine and process driven, particularly with regards to month end and statutory reporting. However, the truth is, it can also be challenging and interesting! Reporting is just a small part of the role, and a financial controller can be responsible for treasury, tax, financial planning and growing of commercial business partnerships, just to name a few.
To get the job
Employers look at experienced professionals in a senior position within a finance team, and you will also have to be technically astute with sound knowledge of financial fundamentals. Knowledge of general ledger, budgeting, forecasting, accounting standards and compliance regulations are essential, and you will have to demonstrate the ability to see not only the micro, but also macro side of things. In Hong Kong, potential employees with strong grasp of Hong Kong listing/GAAP requirements are also highly valued.
Three to four years of auditing experience with the Big 4 will give you a huge head start to moving into an all-rounded financial reporting role, and eventually, a financial controller role.
Getting ahead of competition
Given the competitive nature of the market, a classic accounting background with the Big 4 and commercial finance experience are highly regarded and preferred by most employers. Three to four years of auditing experience with the Big 4 will give you a huge head start to moving into an all-rounded financial reporting role, and eventually, a financial controller role. Candidates without the necessary qualifications should consider acquiring accreditation from a professional body, or accumulate substantial experiences in a commercial environment.
Job responsibilities and progression
Finance controllers often move on to become finance directors, CFOs, or even a COO position. The core responsibilities of the position will include financial reporting, business budgeting and forecasting, business development projects, treasury management, risk evaluation and business analysis. In Hong Kong, particularly listed companies, statutory reporting and analysis will also form a big part of a financial controller’s job. Overall, financial controllers remains highly sought after in Asia.