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Introduction: Controllership

Finc 44
Controller

 Play a vital role in maximizing company


performance
 support management by providing information;
 design management control systems to improve the
quality of management decisions;
 significantly enhance firm adaptability
 core mission of controllers is to provide support to
managers and other employees to enable them to
be efficient and effective, thus contributing to
overall firm performance
Evolution of the Controllership
function
 The role of the financial controller is changing
in ways that mirror those of the broader
finance function. Controllers increasingly:
 Participate in the analysis and formulation of
solutions to more strategically oriented issues,
 roleof controllers has changed during the last few
years, evolving from that of a “bean counter” to that
of a full-fledged business partner by placing a greater
emphasis on adding value to their organizations
Evolution of the Controllership
function
 Provide and share financial and nonfinancial data to
operational areas
 The traditional role of the financial controller
involves transaction process and financial reporting
but is now changing. Institute of Management
Accountants (IMA) survey results show that volume for
information requests—of both financial and
nonfinancial data—is increasing.
 Three-quarters of controllers indicated that they are
asked more often to provide data and information to
nonfinancial managers of which 60% responds that
requested data extends beyond traditional and
budget data to include operational data, KPIs and
customer data.
Evolution of the Controllership
function
 Assist operational users with tools that enable self-
service access to informational sources
 Managers appreciate receiving objective internal
information from controllers who have a thorough
understanding of the business and who are intimately
familiar with the internal information systems they
themselves design and maintain.
 A survey shows that controllers are more likely to see
full partner relationships with information technology
(IT, 44%) and internal audit (43%) and to most likely
have some level of information sharing with
compliance, HR, and sales and sales operations (each
for more than 95% of controllers).
Evolution of the Controllership
function
 The increased involvement in strategic support is
raising the financial controller’s profile within the
organization, and the expanding interaction with
nonfinancial functions is creating broader organization
reliance and an enhanced perception of the value of
the controller’s organization.
 But this has introduced concerns around how the
finance areas will support this increasing demand for
elevated skills to support a wider set of consumers of
their expertise.
Controller

 Employee who predominantly engages in the “provision


of information and analysis to assist management in
the running of the business” and who holds a position
within the finance function
 Assume a multitude of roles and perform a host of
activities, such as budgeting, planning, forecasting,
reporting, and investment appraisals
 These professionals are involved in designing and
evaluating business processes, budgeting and
forecasting, implementing and monitoring internal
controls, and analyzing, synthesizing, and aggregating
information—to help drive economic value
Controller vs Financial
Accountant
Controller Financial Accountant
 in charge of the accounting  in charge of preparing financial
department and will oversee the reports and analyzing how the
production of financial reports as company is performing financially
well as control the company’s
cash flow

 in charge of money and  responsible for keeping tabs on


accountants where the money is going
 responsible for complying with
tax laws and government
reporting requirements
Financial Accountant vs
Controller
The successful controller

 Skill set of a controller


 Controllers as business partners, knowledge of accounting
 know the tax implications of proposed courses of action
 understand cost flows and information flows
 comfortable with technology and be an expert in the
company‘s business and accounting software
 A generalist. You need a working knowledge of what
people do in marketing, engineering, human resources, and
other departments
 understand how the processes, departments, and
functions work together to run the business
The successful controller

 Controllers as business partners


 contribute ideas at planning meetings, so you have to see
the big picture, keep a focus on the bottom line, and think
strategically
 understand the business. You have to know how the
company makes money and how the industry is structured
 controllers need almost the same skill set as a successful
entrepreneur
 Controllers must also have the qualities of a first-rate
supervisory board chairman and a management consultant
The successful controller:
Technical Skills

 Cost Accounting
 traditional core competency of controllers
 Capital Expenditure Budgeting
 basic accounting approach for assessing capital
expenditure projects and also management and advisory
transactions
 discounted cash flows or Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
calculations
 Financial Accounting
 knowledge is expected of controllers and includes
familiarity with the PAS/PFRS standards
 The real competency is being able to apply standards in a
focused way, based on the business conditions you find
The successful controller:
Technical Skills

 Financial Accounting
 Technical skills are important in the sense that they enable
the link between the internal perspective of controllers
and the external perspective of financial accounting
 Financial accountants have to comply with standards such
as International Accounting Standards (IAS) when preparing
reports to external stakeholders, whereas controllers do
not.
 Controllers overriding objective is to provide information
to managers that support rational decisions. Such
information may or may not comply with financial
accounting standards
 In case they do not comply, controllers who are aware of
the differences given their technical skills are able to
explicate these differences and avoid confusion
The successful controller:
Technical Skills

 Understanding the Business


 For a long time, controllers were not required to understand
the business because the focus of their work was on
providing mechanistic internal services independent of the
particular company’s business model
 thinking beyond the business process itself and the things
that get done in the company, getting to know the
environment
 not only the internal processes that one needs to
understand, but also the external environment
The successful controller:
Interpersonal Skills

 Management Skills: Backbone, Persistence & Neutrality


“Backbone” relates to the ability of controllers to get
things done even in the face of opposition
 Controllers are also expected to be impartial when
assessing a situation
 power plays may create pressure. Controllers should not,
under any circumstances, play along.
 when managers may try to influence controllers, it is
critical for controllers to maintain a high level of integrity
in order not to deviate from their duty of providing
objective assessments
 Having a backbone also means standing one’s ground
against managers who might be much higher up in the
hierarchy. This is no easy task for a support function, but it
is necessary
The successful controller:
Interpersonal Skills

 The Ability to Ask Tough Questions


 Often there are things that seem to be obvious, but turn
out not to be obvious
 A controller should question everything on general
principles
 Asking tough questions is often easier said than done.
Business processes are highly complex nowadays, meaning
that a straightforward, technical, fact-based assessment is
often not enough
 The ability to ask difficult questions is not only an
analytical one, but also an emotional one. If a controller
doesn’t have an intuition for weak points, then they would
need a great number of auditors and they always arrive
late. Controllers need to have a good business instinct
The successful controller:
Interpersonal Skills

 Communication Skills
 Communication skills are what allow controllers to share
their results with colleagues
 controllers were often noted for their poor communication
skills in the past, instead choosing to hide behind systems,
calculations, and numbers
 Nowadays, the ability to clearly present information to
management, and to argue persuasively when engaging
with colleagues, is becoming more and more important
 In other words, it is not the number itself that is
important; rather, it is what the number actually means
and implies that is important
The successful controller:
Interpersonal Skills

 Communication Skills
 When requesting information from other departments, it
helps to be able to communicate why the information is
needed instead of just demanding the numbers
 This helps to reduce resistance on the part of coworkers
and increases the probability of receiving usable numbers
supplied in a cooperative fashion
 communication determines how the entire range of services
provided by controllers is perceived
 SITUATION: You’ll always be vulnerable if somebody is telling
you stories. I always find that quite embarrassing. That’s when I
say: “Explain it to me in a way that I can understand!” And if he
explains it to me five times and I still don’t understand it—then
he’s not a good controller
The successful controller:
Interpersonal Skills

 Team Skills
 Teams generate controllership services, and as the
manager only sees the final product, it is important for
controllers to act in concert while working on their tasks
 the ability and willingness to cooperate with others—play a
key role in bringing together the specialized components of
controllership
The successful controller:
Changing Role of Controllers
The successful controller:
Changing Role of Controllers

 Findings
 accounting skills are already in high demand, which partly
explains why such skills sit at the lower end of the ranking
 technical skills remain important, interpersonal, “soft”
skills are becoming more and more critical
 controllership role is, in fact, moving away from traditional
roles, such as “bean counter” and “corporate cop,” toward
more proactive roles
 Controllers not only generate raw data; they also “play”
with the numbers, interpret them, communicate them,
and, together with managers, work on achieving an
understanding of what the numbers mean for managers in
their decision making.
The successful controller:
Changing Role of Controllers
The successful controller:
Changing Role of Controllers
The successful controller:
Changing Role of Controllers

 Findings
 This brings the question of how CFOs can best allocate
their resources and time in the face of the huge and
increasing responsibilities.
 The challenges include prioritisation and balancing short-
term/long-term trade offs as businesses seek to reduce
cost but also plan for growth longer term
The successful controller:
Changing Role of Controllers
The successful controller

 How do they acquire the relevant skills?


 it helps if the controller has the right mind-set. An
egocentric character not willing to learn the preferences of
others, or someone who dislikes numbers, certainly is not
helpful
 Strength of character and integrity are personal traits that
are welcome, on the other hand, in order to have the
backbone that is required to criticize and challenge
managers that may be hierarchically superior
 a sound educational background is essential, be it through
a professional education or through a major in
controllership during university education
 However, communication skills, team skills, and business
understanding are more likely to be acquired on the job,
and knowledge of these skills may be supported by
appropriate training measures.
The successful controller

 How do they acquire the relevant skills?


 Experiences in various jobs—be it within the controllership
function (e.g., specializing in budgeting or reporting
duties), as a financial accountant (to train accounting
skills), or as a manager (i.e., to view controller activities
through the lens of the manager and to expand business
expertise)—will also contribute to controller training
 controllers should always be “on the move” to acquire new
skills and capabilities in order to stay on top of their game.
 Can all of these skills even be united in a single person?
 In the case of some of the skills requirements, it is hardly
conceivable, but is it not necessary because the skills
profiles of several individual controllers can be used to
complement one another.
The successful controller

 How do they acquire the relevant skills?


 Another argument focuses on the need for specialization in
order to push efficiency
 Bundling the specialized skills of several employees in one
department or team.
 Overall, it would appear that they should command all the
skills mentioned, but instead of having to know every last
detail, they need an above-average capacity for abstract
thinking
 But this does not mean that top controllers are exempt
from having technical knowledge. In order to fulfill their
responsibilities as leaders, they need to have at least a
basic level of knowledge in each field of activity
Four priorities for Financial Controller

 Finding and developing talented people


 Improving reporting and adding value to the
business
 Getting the basics right
 Improving efficiency
Four priorities for Financial Controller

 Finding and developing talented people


 Increasingly difficult to locate people with the right
commercial or high-level technical skills.
 Adding value is about looking to invest in highly capable
people who understand the business and who can provide
the chief executive with the information necessary to run
the business
 Clear recruitment strategies and an understanding on how
changes at the top will affect the required skills set for the
rest of finance function are important in attracting and
retaining the people you need.
 Getting the basics right
 Improving efficiency
Four priorities for Financial Controller

 Improving reporting and adding value to the


business
 Management reporting remains the bedrock on which the
FC’s role is built, because it is critical to the interface of
finance and business.
 It is crucial that management reporting is aligned to
business strategy
 The following are the key trends in management reporting.
 Including more non-financial key performance indicators
(KPIs)
 Delivering reports electronically, with interrogation tools
 Providing more value-added commentary
 Driving for relevance and brevity
The successful controller

 How do they acquire the relevant skills?


 Another argument focuses on the need for specialization in
order to push efficiency
 Bundling the specialized skills of several employees in one
department or team.
 Overall, it would appear that they should command all the
skills mentioned, but instead of having to know every last
detail, they need an above-average capacity for abstract
thinking
 But this does not mean that top controllers are exempt
from having technical knowledge. In order to fulfill their
responsibilities as leaders, they need to have at least a
basic level of knowledge in each field of activity
The successful controller

 Find