• What keeps Financial Controllers awake at night & 4 brilliant tips for aspiring FCs

    What keeps financial controllers awake at night and 4 brilliant tips for aspiring FCs

    Here at Astute Recruitment, we recognise that the aspiring FC’s of tomorrow want to learn what key challenges they will face taking the next step in their career. So, we’ve taken the time to signpost the 5 main challenges Financial Controllers Face and key tips on how you can gain experience to step up to an FC role.

    1. According to research conducted by EY, the number one cause of sleepless nights is recruiting the right finance staff for your team and succession planning.
    • TIP: If you are an aspiring Financial Controller, any exposure to the recruitment process will be invaluable, whether liaising with recruitment consultancies, crafting clear and accurate job descriptions or mastering interview techniques for potential staff. Put yourself forward and offer to help in any way you can.

    2.  Keeping abreast of new accounting treatments, changes to IFRS and revenue recognition.

    • For the aspiring FC, if you can demonstrate how you have maintained great current knowledge of all the latest developments in financial and management accounting, you will be positioning yourself ahead of a lot of other job applicants or in your chase of a promotion. Offer to alleviate workloads from your Financial Controller and gain excellent experience to add value to your CV at the same time.

    3. Implementing changes/ Change management

    • Many of our client’s state “change management” as key criteria for potential job applicants to Financial Controller opportunities. Finance Directors, CFO’s and senior Financial Controllers have ever increasing remits, not just across Finance but also embracing Operations, HR, IT, Procurement and Production. 


    • If you can spot areas you can offer to help them- suggest projects to improve financial processes, or to clarify and create ever quicker, concise management information, you will achieve 2 things:
      You will be able to demonstrate to an existing or future employer how you have made a tangible difference benefitting the business.
      You will have proven experience of taking initiative and of you specifically suggesting solutions that have worked.
      In essence, you will have positioned yourself as a more credible applicant, proven to go the extra mile and someone who can deliver defined improvements to a business’ operation!


    •  A common failing cited by clients of unsuccessful applicants for FC and other positions is that the candidate was great – personable, knowledgeable and suitably experienced BUT– When asked to provide examples of how they have made a difference – candidates have described how they have been part of a team who have done a/b/c but failed to demonstrate how they have personally taken ownership and made a difference themselves. You need to sell yourself and promote your achievements clearly, concisely and be able to demonstrate the benefits to finance and for the business as a whole of what you did. Practice telling your story so your words can flow in the heat of an interview situation.


    4. Less margin for error yet no increased leeway for reporting deadlines to be achieved.

    • Finance Directors are increasingly spending more time on investor relations, more time on corporate governance and yet are still expected to devote the same energy and time ‘on the business’. As a result, more FD’s are increasingly willing to push more work onto their Financial Controllers.
    • In an article for E&Y, a senior Financial Controller for a well-known manufacturer said that “the difference between the CFO and the FC is that the FC is more like the financial operating officer. They make sure that there are no surprises in the balance sheet and that the audits are clean. The CFO/ FD keeps on top of the numbers, but they have a big external focus in the positioning of the company with investors”


    • How can this help an aspiring Financial Controller? Offer your help to assist your FC with their traditional duties while they may be given extra workloads cascaded down from their own boss. Always remember – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!