As threats of a recession loom, controllers might naturally be worried about their job security. If you’re working in a position of financial leadership, here are seven strategies you can use to maximize your effectiveness and safeguard your position.

1. Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Trends

Depending on your specific certification, you may already be responsible for continuing education. Keeping your certifications current can certainly help you maintain your value, but it’s also just as important to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices.

You might start by reading industry publications or listening to podcasts about the industry that you currently serve. However, financial professionals should also make sure to stay current on regulatory issues that could affect their organization. If you can help your company navigate risk, it could go a long way toward helping you solidify your place within it. You may even position yourself for a future promotion.

2. Develop New Skills

As a controller, you might also seek to develop new skills that maximize your value as a financial professional. These can include technical skills related to finance and accounting, but many financial workers are discovering that companies also value their soft skills. Think about such areas as:

  • Communication (verbal and written)
  • Leadership and time management
  • Strategic thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy 

In an age where controllers are increasingly called upon to advise senior leaders or communicate with company stakeholders, it’s vital that controllers have the necessary skills to communicate effectively and manage their relationships with others.

3. Embrace Technology

From artificial intelligence to cloud computing, technology is changing the world of finance. Controllers can adapt to this changing business environment by learning to leverage technology.

For instance, enterprise-level software can give controllers centralized access to their company’s financial data. With real-time data, controllers and financial teams can develop the habit of continuous budgeting and forecasting, empowering their organizations to make quick decisions about how they allocate resources or pursue new initiatives. By keeping your finger on the pulse of your company data, you’ll be able to maximize the ROI, which also maximizes your own value.

4. Maintain Business Partnerships

Controllers can increase their value by maintaining strong business relationships. That applies not only within the business but also to other business leaders in and out of their industry.

Maintaining these relationships allows controllers to learn from the best practices of other industry leaders. In some cases, it can even provide strategic insight into the behavior of competitors, which is equally useful in optimizing your company’s core processes. And even if the worst should happen, these external relationships can double as an employment network to help you get back in the game.

5. Pursue Collaboration

The larger an organization, the greater the tendency for departments to form “silos” that are disconnected from one another. This kind of isolation can create barriers to communication and collaboration, which translate into a lack of organizational efficiency.

Controllers can learn to collaborate across departments for better control and savings. For example, controllers can learn to collaborate with marketing teams to measure the ROI of recent campaigns. Controllers might also collaborate with CISOs and IT professionals to assess how security protocols (or gaps in information security) impact the company’s bottom line.

6. Improve Efficiency

The bottom line: companies value employees that save them money. If you can improve the efficiency of your operations, you’re more likely to experience long-term job security. And at worst, your efforts might pad your resume for future employment opportunities.

Controllers might look into ways to improve the supply chain and procurement process. By managing your relationships with suppliers, you can negotiate better contract terms and rates. Alternatively, by tapping into technology and automation, you can streamline your AP workflows to save time and money and allow your teams to accomplish more with less. 

7. Stay Flexible

Above all else, your greatest asset will be your capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. The financial world can bring constant change. Controllers who keep an open mind about their company and career field can learn to adjust their strategies to meet changing demands. This might involve reinvesting in your education or skill set, or it may simply mean adapting to the new demands of your company.

Flexibility is a deeply personal trait. Thriving controllers may need to adjust their expectations. Instead of being undone or threatened by change, learn to embrace it. Resilience will not only make you a better controller but also a better human being.

Cultivating Value

You can’t control the hiring and firing decisions of your employer. But you can work hard to display the qualities that make you an essential asset for your company. These tips will improve your job security. And at the very least, they can make you a valuable asset for your next hire.