Financial expertise is essential when managing the daily challenges of running a business in today’s competitive market. A part-time controller may be exactly what your business needs to get a handle on its finances and excel. What exactly does a part-time controller do, though? Essentially, a controller manages the current state of a company’s finances and is responsible for the day-to-day financial operations.
Typically, a controller will report directly to the company’s chief financial officer, but for smaller businesses, the CFO and controller roles may be rolled into one, in which case the controller will report to the CEO. The controller role plays a major part in your company’s finances from overseeing the accounting and finance department to report creation and compliance coordinator. Below is a more detailed explanation of what a controller is responsible for handling at a company.
The controller decides the procedures and processes which will be used by the accounting team. It’s important for the controller to choose the policies and procedures that best fit the company as they’ll determine how the financial departments operate. This can include everything from the type of accounting software used to benchmarks and report creation.
When it comes to financial reports, the controller is largely in charge of producing these documents. The reports are created by the controller with the assistance of the accounting and finance staff, but it is the responsibility of the controller to ensure these reports are on-time and follow generally accepted accounting principles. These reports must also closely reflect the organization’s most current financial status.
The controller also has a large say in the company’s financial decisions since the position has in-depth knowledge of the organization’s financial status. When the leadership team discusses potential changes to the company, such as adding a new product or changing services, the controller determines the financial risk involved in the decision and determines whether the organization can financially support the change moving forward.
A lot of the decision-making information is based on the company budget, which the controller is also responsible for creating. Depending on the company’s needs, a controller will create a budget for the year or by quarter. After the budgeted year or quarter passes, the controller then makes a budget-to-actual report showing an analysis of how much actual money was spent during the period and how much was budgeted. The company can make adjustments to the budget moving forward once it knows these numbers.
The controller is responsible for ensuring all payments are on-time. The position oversees the accounts payable and receivable staff to ensure suppliers are receiving payments as scheduled and to also make sure clients are paying for their services. Timely payments are essential for a smoothly operating company.
This is true not only when dealing with customers and vendors, but when paying employees, as well. In addition to client and supplier payments, the controller also has to make sure payroll is accurate. The controller does this by monitoring tax deductions and insurance payments to ensure the right amounts are being withheld so paychecks are accurate. Without accurate paychecks, employee satisfaction can drop, which is another reason why the controller role is so vital to an organization.
Financial departments face a lot of scrutiny, especially after the financial scandals of Enron and WorldCom followed by the financial crisis of 2008. Businesses must now put up with a whole host of regulations dictating how they handle their finances and how they report financial information to the public.
A controller takes on the task of ensuring a company is compliant with all applicable financial rules and regulations. This means interacting with stockholders and reporting accurate information to build and maintain client and shareholder trust. It also involves helping prepare documents for the audit officer during a routine audit. When a controller prepares the documents and assists the auditor, the process runs much more smoothly. Afterward, the controller will handle any changes the auditor required for compliance.
In addition to handling audits, the controller also files the company’s taxes. If the company decides to hire a third-party business to handle taxes, the controller is still responsible for providing records and reports that will be needed to accurately file the tax documents.
Ultimately, a controller oversees the financial stability of a company. The controller can effectively accomplish this task because the position requires years of experience. By working through the ranks from a basic accounting or auditing position, the controller is well aware of the decisions needed to effectively manage the financial departments of any firm.
If you think your business could benefit from the expertise listed above, then consider hiring a part-time controller. A part-time controller is ideal for your business because you’ll get the financial consulting your company needs without the cost of hiring a full-time employee. You’ll have more time to focus on providing services to your customers, building new customer relationships, and digging into core business issues when you have someone you can trust managing finances.