Financial controllers and CFOs are moving past controller services and playing a more strategic role in company operations. According to Ventana Research, roughly one in five CFOs have a strategic influence in their companies, and that number is increasing. “There’s been an evolution in America in terms of the CFO,” explains Paul Mandell, CEO and co-founder of the Consero Group, in Forbes. “The CFO is increasingly being called upon to weigh in on much more strategic decisions involving the company, including everything from transactions to providing assessments of emerging markets and analyses that go far beyond looking at the books and determining whether there will be enough cash to support investment.”
In fact, the Financial Executives Research Foundation’s 2015 Finance Priorities Survey found that “strategic planning” is the number one concern for CFOs. Part of it has to do with managing regulations and tax planning, but CFOs also add to conversations on pricing, acquisitions and potential markets.
Here are some reasons why you need to talk to your CFO and financial controller:
1. The CFO Knows How Much It All Costs
You may budget and forecast everything down to the dollar, but how often do you check the numbers and compare real figures to estimates? The CFO does. Having regular conversations with your company’s finance team will help ensure that you know exactly where your company is at with costs so that you don’t overestimate your cash flow.
2. Financial Controllers Know Which Efforts Are Most Profitable
Your controller knows which of your efforts are most profitable. The same way that he or she looks at actual expenses compared to estimates, the financial controller can look at actual versus estimated expenses on a per project basis. This is called job costing and you can use it to see which projects earn your company the most money.
3. Financial Controllers Know When It’s Time to Change
The finance team at your company know when it is time for your company to change its operations. While this does include job costing, your financial controller can also tell you when it is a good time for a new initiative. “CFOs can stimulate and drive the timely execution of change in the finance function or the enterprise,” explains Deloitte. “Using the power of their purse strings, they can selectively drive business improvement initiatives such as improved enterprise cost reduction, procurement, pricing execution and other process improvements and innovations that add value to the company.”
4. CFOs Know Which Structure Is Ideal
Your CFO knows the ideal structure for your company. He or she can provide insight into the best capital financing strategies for your company’s goals as well as how to invest your company’s capital to get the biggest bang for your buck. CFOs can provide valuable advice on mergers, acquisitions and operational reinvestment.
5. CFOs and Financial Controllers Know What Needs to Happen Next
CFOs and financial controllers are more than accountants. They also make sure your company stays in compliance with government regulations, adheres to tax statutes and explains company finances to investors. In turn, the people who provide your controller services know what steps you need to take to protect the company. Also, financial controllers know your depreciation schedules and can advise when it is time for you to reinvest so that you can take advantage of tax breaks and depreciation.
Whether you use in-house accounting or outsourced bookkeeping services, your controller can contribute more to your company than simply balancing the books and filing your quarterlies. Their knowledge of the financial side of your company’s operations can (and should) help to inform management decisions and overall company strategy, as well as give you the competitive edge you need to beat your competitors.