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What does a Financial Controller do?

If you are considering a career as a financial controller, you can expect excellent rewards in terms of salary and a varied and challenging range of responsibilities. But you can also expect to work hard to gain these benefits--with long hours and ongoing education being the norm for financial management occupations.

Common duties of the financial controller's career

Financial controllers play an important role in the financial management of the organization that employs them. They may be employed on a long-term basis, or hired on a short-term contractual basis to manage or advise on a specific issue or project.

The specific responsibilities of a Financial Controller depend upon the size of the organization for which they work and the sector in which it operates but, as a general rule, a financial controller's job is to manage and report on the financial position of an organization by performing many duties:
  • Analyzing income and expenditure
  • Planning and forecasting financial transactions
  • Developing financial strategies
  • Setting targets and monitoring performance
  • Preparing financial reports
They may also oversee the work of other financial departments such as audit, accounting, and budgets, or activities specific to a certain industry such as lending, investments, or fund management.

Ongoing education for the control of others' finances

The knowledge and skills required to undertake the responsibilities outlined above are developed through a combination of education and experience. You need at least a bachelor's degree in a subject such as accounting, economics, or finance, and many financial controllers also hold a master's degree or professional qualification plus several years experience in a finance role such as accounting.

Gaining professional certification can also help to further your career and find employment as a financial controller. There are many professional certification programs available:
  • Chartered Financial Analyst
  • Certified Treasury Professional
  • Certified Management Accountant
Financial controllers, like other financial managers, need to commit to ongoing education and training to ensure that they maintain their credentials and remain up-to-date with changing laws, regulations, and financial practices.

Career prospects for financial controllers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8 percent job growth for financial managers--about the same as average for all occupations. The increased demand created by a growing economy, increased globalization, and regulatory changes are expected to be offset by corporate downsizing, mergers and acquisitions.

Of course, job prospects and salaries vary across the country. The highest concentration of workers in financial management in the U.S. was in the District of Columbia, while the top-paying state for financial managers was New York.

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