Plot out the way forward with the finance savvy of a smart controller who will own your accounting department and provide strategic insight. Keep your fast-moving company on course.
An interim controller fills a key role, for a period of time or an ongoing basis, by leveling up the finance team with a specialized, diverse skill set that includes accounting expertise, technology savvy and financial leadership. They are also known for their unique ability to clearly communicate complex issues and bridge gaps between the various organizations within a company. In fact, an interim controller can be a transformational resource, if that’s what’s needed.
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The role of interim finance controller can be vital as an emerging growth company, for example, seeks further growth and needs a finance team that can keep up with it and help it advance. And by offering a perspective that a larger company was previously missing, an interim controller can serve as a valued business partner.
Some of the immediate benefits of bringing in an interim controller include an expansion of the finance team’s skills, input and worth at a company. Financial controllers who have excellent interpersonal communicative skills help others understand what the financial results mean and what needs to change if the company wants to pursue a particular growth path. Today’s controllers are known for being forward-thinking and for having a direct impact on strategy.
Find Balance With an Interim Controller
Financial-reporting chops and technical-accounting know-how should be a given for the controller role and other interim accounting roles. But the controllers who save companies from mishaps and proactively help companies make the right calls go beyond their core job description. They elevate the role, and they take a broad, long-range view. They can do this because they have steep experience in leading financial operations, refining internal financial processes and taking on challenging strategic projects, such as financial and tech integrations following an M&A deal.
Our experience as interim controllers is extensive and covers a wide range of situations, from serving as a company’s very first controller, to taking on the finance-team reins in between controllers, to acting as a controller at a part-time level for many months or years.
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We’ve served as controllers to lead the finance function at rapidly growing startups and have become critical members of a larger finance team run by a CFO. We’ve served as controllers all along the growth cycle, at small to large companies, across many industries. Projects we’ve taken on while in the controller role include helping the company steer toward its IPO, readying the company for its first fully employed CFO, weighing in on significant changes to accounting and technology systems…and many more.
We often become the controller at a critical time in a company’s growth journey, sometimes after a controller left under challenging conditions, and it’s been up to us to address complex reporting issues all while keeping the day-to-day accounting operations on track. Fortunately, we thrive when we have multiple challenges to tackle, such as uncovering cost efficiencies, resolving long past-due receivables, and advising management on the business impacts of strategic moves. Our interim controllers are doers and advisors, with both a day-to-day focus and a long-term view.
Is a Controller an Executive Position?
Companies use a variety of titles and define their own expectations of their executives and employees; generally, a controller is a key position in the financial organization and reports to the CFO. Depending on a company’s growth stage, the company may not yet have a CFO, and the interim controller (or fully employed controller) leads the finance team.
What is an interim controller?
An interim controller steps in to fill a talent gap or to provide a company with financial leadership. Depending on the size of the company, the controller could be the lead person in the finance team or report to the CFO. This role is often expected to have both technical and soft skills, as controllers deal with a lot of people, from their staff to other department leaders and sometimes the board of directors.
What does an interim CFO do?
An interim controller addresses a wide-ranging set of needs, including overseeing and developing the finance team, accounting systems and processes, AP/AR, and more. Depending on the company’s size, growth stage and complexity, an interim controller could work for a company for several hours a week or as many hours as a fully employed controller.
Why is a controller important?
Controllers who are skilled at their jobs can introduce a level of financial integrity that was lacking at a company, in addition to establishing accounting processes and systems that can lead to more reliable, more credible financial information for making strategic decisions.
What are a controller’s job duties?
Expectations of the controller position have greatly expanded in recent years as operational skills are in high demand, in addition to the technical skills that experienced controllers are expected to provide.
Sometimes it’s obvious when a company will need interim financial controller services—when the current controller gives their notice or is about to take a temporary leave of absence, for medical or personal reasons. Other companies need a controller to bridge the gap as a company transitions from being in startup survival mode to embracing what it means to be an investor-backed emerging growth company that is quickly expanding.
What Should You Look for in a Controller?
Consider these essential characteristics as you look into interim controller services:
The Accounting Team That Works With You, Not for You
Expert controllers go beyond the accounting and the financial statements and are whizzes at being able to explain what the facts, figures, and footnotes all mean—for management’s sake, leaders of other organizations who need to know, and the board of directors (if the CFO is not filling that role). The best ones see the value in forging connections between departments, such as between finance and IT and finance and procurement and customer service, to get everyone on the page, to raise awareness, and keep the budget process as smooth as possible.
So, when looking for an interim controller, consider where you can find good communicators, finance and accounting experts who can help you understand the numbers in front of you and what they mean about the business today—and tomorrow. They have insights and analytical capabilities and actionable strategic insights that will help your company move forward, toward greatness.
“A RoseRyan pro was our controller, and we’ve worked with others for technical accounting and audit prep. I know I’m covered, no matter what I need.”
Drop us a note in the form and one of our experts will set up a time to discuss the ways RoseRyan can help your business go further, faster.
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