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5 Common Challenges That Financial Controllers Face

Managing the accounting department is a vital task for any company. As the ultimate authority on the organization's financial affairs, the Financial Controller oversees all aspects of financial operations, from day-to-day tasks to long-term strategic planning. To excel in this role, the controller must possess exceptional skills in data analytics, team management, communication, and financial technology.

What Is a Financial Controller?

The Financial Controller is the accounting department supervisor, typically reporting to the CFO, or the business owner in smaller companies. The Financial Controller’s responsibilities may vary between companies, depending on the staff size. But, generally speaking, he or she is responsible for all of the daily activities involved in maintaining the organization’s finances, such as:

  • Creating operating budgets
  • Tracking budget adherence
  • Production of periodic financial reports
  • Analyzing financial data
  • Overseeing Accounts Receivable
  • Overseeing Accounts Payable
  • Overseeing payroll processing
  • Overseeing asset depreciation tracking
  • Reporting budget (spending) variances
  • Training, coaching, and developing staff
5 Challenges and Solutions for Financial Controllers

As companies continue to evolve, Financial Controllers encounter new obstacles in data management and technology integration. They must constantly update their skills and lead their accounting teams to provide valuable insights for top-level decision-makers. Here are some of the most prevalent challenges that today's Financial Controllers must overcome:

CHALLENGE: Efficient data management.

Accounting departments have always received great volumes of incoming data and generated their own large amounts of financial data through their processes. But, the amount of data collection has “grown exponentially” over recent years. Financial Controllers guide company data management policy and strategy and provide financial planning insights based on data.

SOLUTION: Align standards.

A Financial Controller can make data more accessible by aligning the standards across all departments and working with management teams to develop systems with the versatility to accommodate evolving needs. They can also promote the adoption of financial software to increase data quality within the business.

CHALLENGE: Conveying complex financial information.

Financial controllers must be able to communicate creatively to paint a clear picture of what the data represents in terms of the business and all of its stakeholders’ interests. Simply showing the numbers to top decision-makers, other department leaders, and employees does not necessarily help them make sufficient use of the data.

SOLUTION: Extract the essentials from complex reports.

Financial Controllers possess the ability to break down complex financial concepts into easily understandable explanations for business owners. Adding clarifying commentaries to financial data and utilizing modern data and financial technology tools can aid in developing captivating narratives for presentations, ensuring that listeners can comprehend them effortlessly.

CHALLENGE: Proficiency in new technologies.

The organization relies on the Financial Controller as the expert on the processes for all stages of financial management during a given period, from managing receipts and payments to bookkeeping, closing, reporting, and planning. That naturally requires high proficiency in financial management technologies.

SOLUTION: Use the best tools.

All businesses looking to grow should start early with the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, like NetSuite, for example. Working within this cross-departmental ERP system is a great benefit to Financial Controllers and their teams. It provides access to data and information to the entire staff regardless of their location.

CHALLENGE: Minimizing staff attrition.

Employee retention is a major challenge faced by accounting managers in the current job market. This problem is not unique to any particular industry and affects businesses of all sizes.

SOLUTION: Consider other outsourced options.

Outsourcing the bookkeeping needs of the business can be a smart solution to avoid dealing with staff attrition. It eliminates the hassle of retaining in-house employees and provides access to experienced accounting professionals who can support your business needs.

CHALLENGE: Making the most of process automation.

Business process automation (BPA) is advanced custom software that can execute a series of steps in a process that had previously been performed manually. Reports estimate that up to 80% of standard business accounting department tasks can be automated — a staggering percentage.

SOLUTION: Draw on existing management skills.

Financial Controllers should leverage their existing skills, such as project management and process control development, to excel in operating BPA systems in their accounting departments. Encouraging decision-makers to consider implementing BPA systems can further enhance their expertise in this area. Continuously building on these skill sets and staying up-to-date with emerging technologies can help Financial Controllers lead their accounting teams to success in financial management.

Commit to Lifetime Learning

In addition to the usual concerns about data security, evolving business models, and others in growing companies, today’s Financial Controller is met with new issues. Those include rapid technological advancement, vast growth in data production, new employment market issues, and more.

To excel in their role, Financial Controllers must commit to lifelong learning and remain up-to-date with evolving financial management skill sets, such as becoming experts in data analytics tools and familiarizing themselves with agile business team concepts. 

An alternate option to having an in-house Financial Controller should be turning to's client accounting services to help alleviate many of these concerns for internal Financial Controllers and business owners.  Whether you own or manage a small or mid-size business,'s accounting specialists are ready and willing to help.  Contact us today to learn more about our client accounting services.

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