How to make the Step Up to Financial Controller

28th June 2017
Geoff Collings

If you’re looking to make the step up to Financial Controller in the near future, there are certain skills that a potential employer will look for when deciding whether to offer you the role. Your route to this position thus far may be different from that of the candidates that you’re competing against. However, to make the next step you’ll need to demonstrate a certain skillset.

Of course, the role of Financial Controller itself will vary from firm to firm. It very much depends on the size and type of business. Having said this, if you’re looking to make the next move in your career, give yourself a head start by ensuring that you have the following skills:

1. Strong Technical Experience and Knowledge

One of the most important aspects that you’ll need to demonstrate as a potential financial controller is your experience throughout a whole range of financial roles and across a range of finance processes. After all, you’ll be looked upon to maintain all financial aspects of the company.

Top candidates should be comfortable with negotiating contracts and insurance policies, meeting with tax advisors and auditors, reviewing invoices and executing internal financial controls.

2. Line Management Experience

Financial Controllers are expected to have people reporting to them. It’s therefore crucial that they have good people skills and line management experience.

You’ll be expected to lead and motivate a team, solve conflicts, and work alongside your colleagues as a team player as required. Previous experience of being able to manage people is therefore crucial.

3. Communication Skills

This goes hand in hand with line management experience. You’ll need to be able to communicate well on both a financial level and a non-financial level. You should exhibit excellent professional ethics at all times, and you may have to communicate with colleagues, clients and suppliers who are not familiar with financial terms.

Similarly, you may need to provide your company with important analysis of data and expert opinions, and you’ll be expected to relay this to senior management in a clear and concise manner. This means that good written and verbal skills are crucial.

4. Attention to Detail and the Bigger Picture

For any financial or accounts job, attention to detail is key. But there’s a certain type of attention to detail which is required by Financial Controllers.

Financial Controllers possess of a huge amount of data and information at any given time. Keeping on top of the organisation of this is vital. However, you also need to constantly be outward looking, and aware of where the finance team sits in context of the wider business. There’s a fine line needed between exceptional organisational skills and at the same time being able to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

Furthermore, you’ll need to look ahead to the position of the company within the industry they’re operating in. Can you demonstrate an awareness of the future profitability of the company?

The role of Financial Controller certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. However, if you feel that you’re up to the challenge and ready to take the next step in your career, contact MacKenzie King. We are leaders in financial recruitment Essex, Suffolk and Kent-wide, and can help to place you in your first Financial Controller role.