The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Financial Controller

Published On: 16 Jul 2018
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If you are great with numbers and have excellent organisational skills, then this job may be very satisfying for you. You’ll be making important decisions in the business and you will be trusted to manage the company’s finances. This job can be rewarding as you will be handed financial control and you will see your hard work positively affect the company.

You will need some previous experience as an accountant or similar before being considered for a job as a financial controller. This is because this job role involves high levels of knowledge, confidence and responsibility.

If that sounds up your street, read on to find out the salary, main duties, hours of work and more.

What is a Financial Controller?

  • Job Description

    So, what does a Financial Controller actually do? And are you cut out to begin a career in that industry as well?

    As a financial controller you will be responsible for the accounting operations of a company. You will be working under the finance director – preparing financial reports and documenting all accounts.

    You can end up working in any industry in this job role such as a football club or a zoo – every company needs a maths whiz to manage their finances – so, if you have an interest in a particular field, then getting a job in that industry will make your job more exciting.

    You will be in charge of corporate accounting, financial reporting, budget and forecast preparation, production of periodic financial reports, such as monthly, quarterly, and annual accounts. You will be managing the company’s transactions, from accounts payable to receivable payroll.

  • Hours of Work

    Good news if you love your evenings and weekends! You will be expected to work typical office hours, which could be any time between 8am and 6:30pm depending on the company that you work for. This will add up to around 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. You won’t normally be expected to work on public holidays either – music to your ears, right?

  • Main Responsibilities

    So, what will your main responsibilities be as a Financial Controller?

    Duties typically include:

    • Producing accounts
    • Producing periodic financial reports
    • Auditing
    • Managing tax and compliance issues
    • Payroll
    • Maintaining the accounting filing system
    • Calculating profit and loss
    • Budgeting
    • Analysing costs and making recommendations
    • Reporting to the financial director
    • Recruit and train staff

Key Financial Controller qualifications

Do you have the qualifications to get the job?

You could complete a finance or accounting degree e.g. Business and Finance or Applied Accounting, which will take 3 or 4 years (depending if you choose a course with a placement year). To qualify for a degree you will need 3 A levels A-C. Maths may be a requirement, however it will depend on the institution’s entry requirements.

Other study options are:

  • CIMA F2 Financial Management
  • AAT certificate or diploma in accounting or bookkeeping
  • ACCA F1, F2, F3 or diploma
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If you don’t want to take the university route, you can learn whilst you earn with some of these courses – some employers will fund this for you whilst you train to become an accountant, from there you can work your way up to become a Financial Controller.

Vital Financial Controller Skills

Want to know if you’ve got what it takes? These are the skills you’ll need for the role.

Firstly, you will need to have a number crunching brain. Other skills include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Critical thinker
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to meet strict deadlines
  • Ability to meet targets
  • Decision making skills
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Confidence
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What is a Financial Controller’s salary?

Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty…

Qualified financial controller’s can earn between £28,000 and £45,000. More experienced financial controllers can earn between £50,000 and £70,000 depending on the location, size of company, experience and responsibilities.

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How to become a Financial Controller

Now that you know what a Financial Controller does, how do you become one?

Once you gain either your degree or accounting qualification, you will need to start by building up experience as an accountant or in a financial position before being able to progress to a Financial Controller. You may also need some experience in a supervisory role.

This might sound as though it will take many years to progress, however, you will need to learn the ropes, work hard and prove yourself, as you would when working your way up in any job role. If you’ve had your sights set on this position for a while, you may have already begun your journey to climbing the ladder.

How to develop your Financial Controller career

So, imagine for a second that you’ve been a Financial Controller for some time – what next?

The next logical step up the career ladder would be Finance Director. You can get to this position after proving yourself as a successful Financial Controller with a few years’ experience under your belt. A Financial Director has much more responsibility and is at the very top of the accounts team. They make all of the financial decisions – as a Financial Controller, you really aren’t far from this position. As long as you work hard and show interest in this role, you can be swiftly promoted.

Another way to progress in your career is to become a Financial Controller of a large group of companies. This will challenge you and give you a range of accountabilities as opposed to working for just a single company. Be prepared to work your socks off.

If you have your sights set on something a bit different, you could always work abroad for a multinational firm. This will allow you to progress personally as well as professionally.

So there you have it; everything you need to set out on the road to a new Financial Controller career!

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