How to Become a Financial Controller

Financial Controllers are mid-level managers who are responsible for overseeing a financial team in order to accomplish the task of managing all of the financial aspects of an organization or company.

These individuals have many tasks, but are mainly responsible for the financial activities within an organization.

Financial Controllers will develop, plan, monitor and report all information relating to all of an organization’s financial actions and expenditures.

This position is more common in large organizations or corporations with the most common employers being financial institutions, such as banks, government agencies and any large corporation or company with a financial department.

Education Requirements to Become a Financial Controller

Individuals who want to become a Financial Controller need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.

In addition, individuals can also seek certification to show their proficiency in the field.

Although not currently a requirement to become a Financial Controller, some companies are now seeking candidates with advanced Master’s degrees.

Individuals pursuing their bachelor’s degree can assure that the best areas of focus include studying Accounting, Finance, Economics or Business for individuals working on their undergraduate degree.

The typical curriculum for these degrees include: international business, business law, financial management, human resources management, budget analysis and forecasting and general auditing.

Individuals pursuing a graduate degree can focus their studies on Finance, Business Administration or Economics.

These advanced programs will require individuals who want to become a Financial Controller to gain in depth training on financial analysis methods, software and develop financial analytical skills.

In addition, several years of experience will help an individual secure a position as a Financial Controller because these professionals are required to manage a financial team that includes clerks and accountants.

The final step in order to begin a career in this profession is to seek certification.

Individuals may seek certification such as a Certified Financial Controller (CFC), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

Individuals may visit the Institute of Financial Consultants to learn more information on certification and the requirements needed.

Financial Controller Job Description

Financial Controllers are responsible for working with a company’s finances and assuring that they are functioning, are organized and running efficiently.

Financial Controllers are responsible for making sure that a company’s financial department is running smoothly.

These professionals also manage a team of accountants to assure daily administrative tasks are completed on time.

Financial Controllers typically work regular business hours, however, if there are deadlines related to their job, some extra hours will be needed to meet them.

The main tasks Financial Controllers are responsible for include: developing, preparation, examining and reporting information on any and all financial activities occurring at an organization or company.

Daily activities can include analyzing financial books, creating accounts, auditing, provide feedback on an organization’s financial strategy, assuring compliance is being met in all tax or other regulatory aspects, managing their department and reporting information to their management, most typically a Financial Director.

A Financial Controller will set up controls to make sure all the financial information and how it is reported is done in an accurate manner.

In addition, Financial Controllers will also set up protocols and systems to prevent the occurrence of fraud within the organization.

Financial Controller Salary and Career Path

The median annual income for Financial Managers, which includes the Financial Controller profession, was approximately $109,740 in 2014.

Exact wages will depend on experience and the industry a professional works in.

The highest paying industries are the Professional, Scientific and Technical services which pay a median income of $130,120.

The lowest 10 percent of Financial Managers can expect to earn a median annual wage of $59,630.

Job projections for Financial Managers are expected to increase by 9 percent through 2022.

This growth is considered faster than average when compared to other professions and is attributed to the economy and its growth.

However, this rate is for this profession as a whole.

Exact job growth will vary between industries.

Individuals who are interested in the Financial Controller profession will already know they are good with numbers, are detail oriented and able to analyze and read a lot of detailed information regarding finances.

Joining the financial sector will create a career path that is challenging and that pays well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a financial controller do?

The main aim of a financial controller is to make sure that a business is operating effectively and efficiently.

The typical responsibilities of a financial controller usually include managing accounting; monitoring internal controls; various banking and finance activities; proper reporting to taxing authorities; insurance recommendations; corporate documentation, and so on.

A financial controller is not someone who makes important decisions inside the company; however, the workers and executives of the business fully rely on how the controller interprets the financial figures, as the reports will affect the company’s output.

Financial controllers deal with marketing, production, finance, and accounting to ensure that there are proper internal controls within the company and that the business is as profitable as it can be.

How much do financial controllers make?

On average, a financial controller can make a little more than $82.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $55.000 and $123.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location, and so on.

The professionals that work in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level financial controller can earn around $62.000 per year, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $87.500 and more per year.

How much does it cost to become a financial controller?

You would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, accounting or a related area to become a financial controller in most of the cases.

To improve job prospects, you can consider getting a master’s degree or taking some postgraduate courses.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (bear in mind that the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

A master’s degree will typically cost you over $30.000.

You might need to become a Certified Public Accountant; that will cost you $50-$200.

What is the demand for financial controllers?

Between 2018 and 2028, the financial manager (the closest occupation to a financial controller) job market is expected to grow by 16%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s a lot faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

This will happen due to the fact that more and more businesses will be opening, and every company needs a financial controller.

The candidates that possess a master’s degree will have better chances of getting the highest-paid job.

How long does it take to become a financial controller?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to get a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience.

To be able to take the CPA exam, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree or 120 college credit hours.

Find a Program