Your All In Guide To Becoming A Financial Controller

The Controller plays a key leadership role in the accounting and finance department. To become a controller, you’ll need a strong knowledge of accounting principles and procedures, can whip up and share reports with ease, and have the organizational skills to oversee the operations of the accounting department. In large companies, controllers often report to the CFO and manage a number of key accounting staff. Controllers in smaller companies might report directly to the CEO and have a significantly smaller staff to oversee.

Financial Controller Responsibilities:

  • Create accurate financial statements, including income statements, Balance Sheets, and Statement of Cash Flows
  • Own the monthly close process, including journal entries and reconciling various accounts
  • Assist in external audits of financial statements with third party accounting firms
  • Drive insights by researching and interpreting trends in financial data
  • Develop the annual budget process and any interim forecasting changes
  • Support business leaders in completing special projects, ad-hoc reporting, and strategic analysis as requested
  • Work closely with in-house engineering teams or external consultants to implement financial systems such as NetSuite, SAP, Concur or Expensify

Financial Controller Qualifications:

  • BS/BA & MBA in Finance, Accounting, Economics
  • CPA
  • 10+ years of professional experience in accounting
  • Experience raising venture capital equity and venture debt
  • Relevant understanding and experience with US GAAP
  • High degree of organization, initiative, attention to detail, and ability to manage deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Enterprise-level software planning systems
  • Big 4 accounting experience

Financial Controller Salary

Financial Controller Salary New York  Average: $140,000

Financial Controller Salary Range: $85,000 – $230,000

Interested in Controller jobs? Vested is the first finance and accounting hiring marketplace that brings the  jobs to you!  Check out our unique platform in the short video below.

Are you ready to become a Financial Controller? Join Vested and let companies apply to you.

What Do Financial Controllers Do?

You know the basic responsibilities that being a Controller entails, but what will you really be doing on a day-to-day basis in this role? While specific Controller duties depend on the size and needs of each company, this position will likely involve the following tasks.

Financial Reporting & Auditing

Controllers are not only responsible for monitoring a company’s overall finances, but they are also relied on to establish and enforce internal reporting controls. Often, Controllers work with external auditors to ensure the use of proper reporting standards.

Budgeting

Controllers prepare budgets through collecting, analyzing and consolidating financial data.  In this role, a Controller’s main priority is to summarize trends, keep an eye on variances and look into budget deficiencies.

Monitoring Tax Legislation

Businesses rely on Controllers to monitor upcoming legislation that could affect operations and how the company is taxed. The Controller needs to ensure that all necessary licenses, permits and operating procedures are obtained and followed.

Hiring & Managing Staff

Controllers are usually department leaders, meaning they are likely part of the recruiting, hiring, and training process for new accounting team members. The Controller is responsible for everything that goes into managing a team, including motivating, developing and disciplining staff.

Implementation of Financial Systems

Controllers are often the company lead as systems are being implemented at a company.  It takes more than just the technological know-how to implement effective financial systems. It also requires a deep understanding of all aspects of finance function and the business itself.  This is where the Controller is expected to play a large role. They are generally expected to develop policies and procedures and define roles and responsibilities for an effective implementation.

Career Training & Education

Controllers are expected to continue enhancing their finance, leadership, and industry knowledge throughout their careers. Maintaining certificates and attending trainings should be considered job priorities.

Common Finance Controller Interview Questions

Controllers are looked to for their budgeting expertise, ability to interpret financial data, attention to detail, and leadership skills. Prepare to showcase your knowledge and experience in these areas during an interview. Use these common Controller interview questions to help you land your next job.

  1. What do you consider the most important factors to take into account when developing a financial strategy?
  2. Tell me about a time you identified a financial opportunity in your company.
  3. What types of reports and presentations have you developed for executive managers in the past?
  4. Tell me about a time when your opinion was challenged in a team setting.
  5. What kind of reporting software are you familiar with?
  6. How have you helped junior-level staff grow their careers?
  7. What is your approach to hiring financial staff?
  8. Tell me about a time you had to persuade an executive team to make an important financial decision.
  9. How do you monitor and evaluate your team’s performance?
  10. How do you resolve conflicts that arise from stakeholder pushback?
  11. Tell me about a time you had to motivate your team to complete a complex project under a tight deadline.
  12. What are some financial strengths and weaknesses of our industry?
  13. How have you increased revenues for previous companies you’ve worked for?
  14. What is the most challenging financial project you’ve worked on and how did you go about completing it?
  15. Tell me about a time when you improved the efficiency of reporting financial information or the quality of financial reports.
  16. How do you introduce new technology to your team?
  17. Are you experienced in setting up internal reporting controls? If so, give an example of an accounting or financial reporting control you implemented.
  18. How do you relay complex financial information to team members outside of the finance department?
  19. How have you reduced expenses for previous companies you’ve worked for?
  20. What educational steps have you taken toward advancing your career?

How to become a Controller

Maybe you have the necessary education, certificates, and accounting experience to take on a Controller role, but do you have what it takes to succeed in this position? While accounting roles are typically well-suited for organized, factual, detail-oriented individuals, Controller positions require the ability to dive deeper into the numbers and act as both a financial interpreter and guide for executive teams.

If you’re considering a Controller job, work on obtaining the soft skills needed to be effective in the role. Here are five qualities employers desire in a Controller:

  1. Strong Leader

As financial team managers, Controllers need to be able to lead effectively. Not only does this mean directing team tasks and goals, but it also requires the ability to motivate and develop the finance professionals they manage. Successful teams are led by those who understand how to manage both projects and people.

  1. Problem Solver

A Financial Controller needs to be both a reactive and proactive problem solver. They need to be able to detect budget discrepancies and deficiencies and work to fix them. Controllers should also be focused on making improvements in reporting and the general financial direction of the business.

  1. Highly Motivated

Controllers need to have a strong work ethic and the drive to help the business succeed, even if it means going above and beyond what is asked of them. A Controller should be innovative and eager to make changes that will lead to financial success.

  1. Effective Communicator

The Financial Controller is responsible for interpreting dense information and communicating it in a way team members across departments can understand. This means possessing the ability to give reports and forecasts in non-technical terms. A Controller should also be able to build a strong relationship and communicate effectively with the CFO and other department leaders.

  1. Lifelong Learner

Controllers should be innately curious and excited to advance their education. This includes maintaining industry certificates as well as improving leadership and management skills. Financial Controllers should become excited at the idea of enhancing any skillset that will make them better at what they do.

There are many paths to become a controller. At Vested, we’re here to help you choose the right one.

This guide to Financial Controller was created by the Vested team. If you are interested in a Controller role, please join us to get matched with opportunities at one of our partner companies.

Your All-In Guide to Becoming an Accounting Manager

The Accounting Manager plays an important role not only in managing the accounting team, but also in owning the month-end close process. Accounting Managers oversee and maintain financial records, prepare and publish a number of documents, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets and sales reports, and prepare schedules for year end taxes. Often, Accounting Managers report directly to the company’s CFO or Financial Controller and manage a number of Staff Accountants.

Accounting Manager Responsibilities

  • Manage the month-end close process, including the review of journal entries, account reconciliations, and supporting schedules
  • Perform financial statement analyses and work closely with business partners to explain fluctuations to support business decisions
  • Lead accounting projects, including the design and implementation of key finance systems, internal controls, global close efficiency, audit readiness, and management reporting
  • Manage outsourced vendors and find opportunities to outsource activities or processes
  • Support business leaders in completing special projects, ad-hoc reporting, and strategic analysis as requested
  • Mentor, teach, and review the work of other members of the accounting team

Accounting Manager Qualifications

  • BS/BA in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or similar (MBA is a plus)
  • 5+ years of experience professional experience in accounting
  • Advanced Excel (V-Lookup and Pivot Tables)
  • High degree of organization, initiative, attention to detail, and flexibility to accommodate deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Team player
  • Enterprise-level software planning systems

Accounting Manager Salary

Accounting Manager Salary New York Average: $100,000

Accounting Manager Salary Range: $70,000 – $130,000

 

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Join Vested

Interested in Accounting Manager jobs? Vested is the first finance and accounting hiring marketplace that brings the  jobs to you!  Check out our unique platform in the short video below.

Are you ready to become a world-class Accounting Manager? Join Vested and let companies apply to you.

Accounting Manager Job Description: What Does an Accounting Manager Do?

The Accounting Manager is responsible for a number of tasks related to tracking a company’s money. An Accounting Manager should be detail-oriented, familiar with tax regulations and able to effectively communicate with employees and upper-level management. Take a look at some of the tasks Accounting Managers are responsible for.

Managing Accounting Functions

Accounting Managers oversee the accounting functions of a company; this is no surprise. These functions can include ledger maintenance, revenue and asset accounting, accounts payable and accounts receivable. The Accounting Manager is also responsible for managing reporting, such as sales and inventory reports, balance sheets and profit and loss statements.

Preparing Tax Documents

In addition to accounting functions, Accounting Managers are looked to for overseeing the preparation of tax documents, especially for year-end taxes. They often prepare schedules and file for state and federal taxes.

Managing Accounting Staff

Accounting Managers are the leaders of the Accounting Department. This means they are responsible for ensuring department goals are met and projects are completed while adhering to approved budgets. Managing the department goes hand-in-hand with managing individual accounting employees, such as Staff Accountants. Accounting Managers act as mentors and managers, ensuring that their employees are completing tasks and performing well.

Analyzing Finances and Improving Systems

Accounting Managers aren’t only expected to make sure accounting functions are completed, they also need to make sure processes in the department are efficient and beneficial to the company. Having the ability to analyze finances and make improvements to processes is key. Since Account Managers often work with the CFO and other company leaders, they should be able to communicate complex ideas in a clear, efficient manner.

Managing Company Audits

Planning and completing company audits is another process Accounting Managers are expected to take on. This includes identifying internal process risks, evaluating operating controls and practices, and documenting audit results. Once the audit is complete, Accounting Managers create reports and present recommendations for improvement to top-level managers.

5 Accounting Manager Interview Questions & Answers to Prep You for the Interview

Interviews have a tendency to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. But being well-prepared builds confidence and makes the whole interviewing process a little less stressful. Take a look at these five Accounting Manager interview questions and how to go about answering them.

  1. Describe an accounting process you’ve developed or improved.

Why it’s asked: As an Accounting Manager, you’re expected to continue developing and improving processes rather than just working within them. Hiring Managers need to see that you’re forward-thinking and innovative.

How to answer: Practice describing a specific process you’ve developed or improved in a clear, succinct way. Highlight key takeaways without diving too far into unnecessary details or company-specific jargon. If you don’t have experience in this area, talk about what you like about the processes you’ve used or how you would change them if given the opportunity.

  1. How do you minimize the risk for errors?

Why it’s asked: Accounting mistakes can be detrimental to a company. It’s important to know what steps you take to ensure accuracy.

How to answer: Talk through the steps you take before submitting reports and other accounting documents. This likely will include checking your work or having a checks and balances system with your team. You can also describe a time when you caught an error before submitting work.

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to explain a complex accounting situation to someone without an accounting background.

Why it’s asked: Accounting Managers need to be able to explain department issues or goals to company leaders and managers from different departments. You’ll need to be able to make your point in a way that people across departments can understand.

How to answer: Within your answer, be sure to emphasize your communication skills along with your ability to be a team player. You could explain a situation in which there was an accounting issue involving a different department and how you went about contacting that department manager to resolve it. You could also talk about a time when you had to convince an executive, emphasizing any reports or graphs used to state your case.

  1. What do you consider the biggest challenge facing the accounting profession?

Why it’s asked: Hiring Managers want to know if you are able to see the big picture rather than just the small details of your job. This role requires someone who can take initiative to make changes and have the foresight to overcome obstacles.

How to answer: There is no right answer, here. The point is to make sure you are engaged in your profession. As long as you are up-to-date on current industry events, you should be able to give a well-thought-out answer.

  1. How do you monitor the performance of your team?

Why it’s asked: Accounting Managers need to be able to manage employees just as well as they can manage processes. You need to be able to demonstrate your value as a leader.

How to answer: Talk through management methods you use to ensure that department goals are met. Describe how you motivate your team and how you manage difficult conversations with individuals who give low performances.

How to be an Effective Accounting Manager

Positioning yourself in higher-level accounting roles will result in you managing more responsibilities and more people. If you’re new to a management position, understanding how to get the most out of those working under you can take time. Even veteran managers need to step back and evaluate their managing styles on occasion.

Wondering how to best manage your team? Take a look at these tips on how to be an effective manager.

Make Objectives Clear

Creating specific goals for your employees and making these goals clear will help guide the focus of your team. Objectives should be measurable and tailored to each employee, giving them direction without the need to micro-manage. Defining goals at the beginning of the year gives both you and your employees business objectives to work toward and talking points during team meetings and check-ins.

Set High Expectations

Demand excellence of your employees by setting high, yet attainable, standards. This doesn’t mean you need to be overly harsh or strict; simply treat your employees with respect and encourage them to only turn in their best work. Setting high expectations shows your team that you think highly of them and the work they are capable of producing. Refusing to accept less than an employee’s best fosters a work environment that takes pride in good work and pushes toward self-improvement.

Communicate Often

Communicating regularly with your team can (and should) be done without checking work or micromanaging tasks. Simply making it known that you’re available to talk about objectives, roadblocks or new ideas is enough to create a positive, open work environment. Being upfront about  things that might be difficult to discuss, such as compensation, layoffs, interpersonal issues, and other internal conflicts can also build trust and ease any discomfort that comes with manager-employee relationships. Giving both positive and negative constructive feedback is another way to keep communication lines open with your team.

Make Time for Your Objectives

While managing a team can take a lot of time and effort, it isn’t the only responsibility managers have. Be sure to take the necessary time to complete your own work and meet goals set for yourself. It’s easy to adopt a reactive work style as a manager and take care of issues or asks as they arise. Prevent this by blocking off time each week during which you can focus on work without being disturbed. Prioritizing and delegating work can also help you make time for your own projects.

Be Open to New Ideas

Encourage your team to come to you with new ideas, and when they do, listen. Don’t get stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset; the most effective managers are flexible and on the lookout for new opportunities.

Act as a Mentor

Some of the best managers are those who can see their employees beyond current roles. As a manager, you should be mindful of the fact that your Staff Accountant might not want to stay in that position forever. Take an interest in your employees’ career aspirations and direct them on how to get there. If possible, assign tasks and objectives that align with their career goals. Encourage them to attend trainings or attain certificates that can benefit their futures. Taking an interest in the development of team members builds trust and motivates them to do quality work.

This guide to Accounting Manager was created by the Vested team. If you are interested in an Accounting Management role, please join us to get matched with opportunities at one of our partner companies.