What is a controller? If you asked that question ten, five, or even two years ago, the answer would be reasonably different than it is today. While the regular roles—person responsible for preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements—still exist, c

Business- and Tech-Savvy: The Controller Role is More Expansive Than Ever

From leading companies through IPOs to taking increased responsibility for audits, the controller role has grown alongside that of the finance department. This according to a recent report from Dimensional Research and Controllers Council sponsor FloQast, which found that today’s controller is more likely than not a business-savvy and tech-savvy manager that understands the need to provide good data about business operations – both financial and nonfinancial – to directly impact the quality of decision making in order to reduce risks and improve outcomes.

The report, titled Understanding the Modern Controller, surveyed hundreds of financial controllers to examine how the role has evolved and discuss the increasingly complex demands put forth for those in charge of the finance department.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • A Transforming Role: Almost all controllers (95%) agreed that the job is more important and strategic than it was in the past. With the evolving role of the CFO causing changes to the finance department, this is expected. As we discussed in a recent blog, more and more controllers are responsible for compliance and risk management, due in part to the declining CPA CFO.
  • Driven by Technology: As more and more organizations work to improve their technology stack, nearly seven in ten controllers report that this has caused a transformation of sorts. As technology rapidly changes, controllers have found themselves leading the charge to ensure effective use for their organization. AI, BI, and workflow automation are all considered important trends, and controllers need to be mindful of the impact that this has.
  • A Move from Tactical to Strategic: Along with the expanding role of the CFO and the increased use of technology, controllers are now putting more effort into high-value, high-level management tasks. Most controllers (90%) say that the amount of time a typical controller spends on strategic planning has increased in the past 10 years. Similarly large numbers of controllers report a need to spend more time on risk management and mitigation (87%) and talent management (78%).
  • A Target for Recruiters: You’ve probably fielded a few calls over the past few years from recruiters. You’re not alone. Driven in part by the talent crisis, controllers are a hot commodity even in the wake of the pandemic. The vast majority of controllers (88%) have been approached about a career opportunity at a different company in the past year, and 59 report this was a genuine inquiry. Though many aren’t looking, those who are have an opportunity if they want it (and can probably find what they’re looking for in our career center).

An Evolving Role Calls for an Evolving Skillset: Free Controllers Code Book with Membership

Controllers in the 21st Century need to master more than technical accounting skills to become the strategic leaders their companies need today. They need to be effective leaders and managers, explain complicated accounting at a high level for the C-suite, be a technology expert, and still ensure that their teams are doing the accounting right.

Unfortunately, these skills aren’t taught in traditional accounting classes. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the changes, one of the many benefits of working with the Controllers Council is a free copy of Controllers Code—The Secret Formula for a Successful Career in Finance. This book offers real world guidance from Financial professionals to help you navigate the world of the modern controller.

For a limited time, New Controllers Council Members can receive this book for free. Ready to learn more about joining? Click here.

Additional Resources

Upskilling Your Accounting Staff for the Recovery

Tips for Controllers Looking to Build an Effective Relationship with the Audit Committee

Expanding Your Skills: Why Virtual Learning is Vital