Overview

Financial controller is a pivotal and senior role within an accounting function.

Financial controllers are responsible for the whole of the accounting operations of an organisation including:

  • production of periodic financial reports
  • ensuring a system of accounting records
  • a comprehensive set of controls and budgets
  • ensuring that reported results comply with accounting standards and relevant legislation. 

Working with a team of accountants, the financial controller is responsible for all aspects of the smooth running of a finance department.

Entry and progression

Fulfilling a key role within the accounting function of large organisations, chief accountants work in:

  • corporates
  • public sector
  • financial services
  • shared service organisations. 

These sectors provide many entry points into those who wish to become a chief accountant.

ACCA develops the skills and knowledge required by forward thinking professional accountants, including financial controllers.

Exam options

For those who work as a financial controller, or aspire to be a financial controller, the most relevant exam options are:

Performance objectives

Remember it’s not just about exams. You need to have the right experience so that you are competent – you have the experience and knowledge – to start and continue your financial controller career.

Performance objectives (PO) which would provide great experience and must be signed off as part of the Practical Experience Requirement (PER) could include:

Competencies

High level competencies required by financial controllers include:

  • Corporate and Business Reporting

    A. Prepares financial statements, corporate financial and integrated reports for external stakeholders using appropriate technology.

    B. Leads effective decision making through analysing, evaluating and communicating performance and position of entities.

    C. Prepares financial statements for groups of entities using appropriate technologies.

    D. Monitors, critically evaluates, and advises on the relevant accounting standards, regulation and conceptual and reporting frameworks.
     

  • Governance, Risk and Control

    A. Evaluates organisational structures and governance to protect the long-term interests of stakeholders.

    B. Recommends appropriate strategies to ensure adherence to governance structures and application of best practice internal controls.

    C. Identifies and manages risk appropriately.

    D. Uses risk management for the best interests of an organisation and its stakeholders.

    E. Monitors and applies relevant legislation, policies and procedures.

  • Leadership and Management

    A. Applies appropriate leadership strategies to effectively deliver business objectives.

    B. Leads, motivates and manages people to optimise performance and effectiveness.

    C. Collaborates, supports and works to achieve the objectives of the organisation, harnessing appropriate digital technologies.

    D. Acts proactively and thinks strategically, in anticipating organisational needs, recognising the wider business environment and dynamics.
     

  • Sustainable Management Accounting

    A. Applies development and performance management in the wider business and technological environment in the context of strategic planning and implementation.

    B. Directs organisational performance through the selection and measurement of financial and non-financial performance indicators.

    C. Collaborates on the key tactical and organisational areas of budgeting and control, capital investments, people and resource management.

    D. Consults on the design and use of current and emerging technology and information systems to improve strategic decision-making and organisational performance.

  • Ethics and Professionalism

    A. Develops advanced ethical values and professional skills in the promotion of public interest and the profession.

    B. Demonstrates personal effectiveness in fast changing environments.

    C. Encourages innovative thinking within the context of professional scepticism.

    D. Thinks proactively about the future, applying professional judgement and commercial intelligence and seeks specialist input when needed.

    E. Communicates effectively and influences others.