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How to Start as a Financial Controller

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I signed up for a new job as a financial controller, The problem is I have never been in that position before, and I will be the first one to fill this position in the company, because this position just created recently by the company. Even so I have good experience in accounting (more than 6 years in senior level), and good qualifications (CPA, CMA) but I don't know where to start.  Where should I focus? And, what makes this harder for me is that I won't be able to get with the CFO till three or four months at least. So, I will be glad if anyone can give advice about this.


Gerard van Stijn
Title: Head of Finance
Company: Simon Lévelt B.V.
(Head of Finance, Simon Lévelt B.V.) |

You ask a good question. One that is hard to answer however not knowing anything about the company or its financial health or your mandate.

Why don't you start by reviewing the job description and figure out what areas are your responsibility, and which are those of the CFO.
And try to figure out which parts of the finance organization are weak and can use improvements.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Thank you Gerard, about the CFO, he is now in implementing ERP system for the group, and he is in other area. so because of that I won't be able to see him.
For Now there is no job description yet. so I need to work without guidline for now.

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

I have some advice, given that I have the same titile (doesn't necessarily mean the roles are similar) and my position was newly created as well. Since the position is new, I have to warn you that there may be some slack in the the workload at first, meaning you may not have much to do for the first few months. That's okay, just take the time to learn about the company and try to offer help wherever you can. Make sure you learn the processes and also learn the whole cash flow process and product life cycles in terms of producing income. Also, make sure you learn everything you can about the people you need to work with and who you may have to ask for information from later.

Given your experience and licenses, you should be fine.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Thank you Ross, that's what I do now.
as usual, this company has it's own accounting standard, costing standard, and their own policies regarding everything, so there will be along journey in checking all that's, and learn it, and check if it's implemented correctly.

Andrew Wilding
Title: Director of Finance & Accounting
Company: Sequence, Inc.
(Director of Finance & Accounting, Sequence, Inc.) |

Sadam - congrats on the new job! I agree with Ross and suggest you learn the company first; learn the business, operating processes and people. After that take a dive into the accounting and make sure you understand the current accounting and the team. When you speak with the CFO he will want to understand the financial performance of the company. You will need to be able to talk to the P&L by general ledger account but also by line of business. Building out your cash flow forecast will also be helpful so he can understand the ins and outs on a monthly basis. You will have to customize the approach based on your company and the industry you are in. It will really depend on how established the accounting and finance department are but from my experience I have never had any slack time since there is always something to improve or analyze.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Thanks Andrew, I agree with you and I'm working on that's for now.
but as you know that's need a lot of time. and I wish if there is a short way to do that

Topic Expert
Lee Andrews
Title: P/T CFO, Business Consultant
Company: Pacific Bag, Inc./Other Clients
(P/T CFO, Business Consultant, Pacific Bag, Inc./Other Clients) |

The company created a new role that you have landed in. Why? Is this new title for the position that was previously an Accounting Manager or similar? Do you have such a person, and other staff reporting to you? Or, was it created to handle the CFO's tasks while he is off on the ERP project? No need to answer all this - I am just pointing out that it is hard to assess your dilemma without more detail.

I assume you report directly to the CFO. Yet you have no way to get together with him for 3-4 months? Can't he find time for a couple of one hour phone calls to at least outline his expectations of you in the next few months, even without a formal job description. Even an email of bullet points that say "do this/manage this" for the next 3+ months. It seems very tough to be so adrift if nobody has even explained the mandate and responsibilities for your new role.

Tough to answer from the outside - I would try to nudge the CFO a little harder from the inside. I know that ERP implementation can demand a lot of time, but if your new role is to handle the "other stuff" while he is otherwise engaged, that CFO is still responsible for that "other stuff".

And . . . Try picking the brains of your direct accounting reports to get the grass roots knowledge of what normally goes in the accounting cycle. Daily, weekly, monthly. If nothing else, you can make sure that all still operates ok.

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Dear Lee

Your reply is exactly what I'm thinking, I already try to call the CFO and he told me just wait and give me some time. the company has got repitation, and I'm sure in futur there will a lot things to do.
But I'm like everyone hate to wait will doing nothing

Augusto Ramirez
Title: Member of the Board of Directors
Company: IVA, INC.
(Member of the Board of Directors, IVA, INC.) |

Dear Sadam,
There are many books and finance materials that group the Finance functions into two major groups: Treasury and Controllership. Treasury includes managing relations and transactions with banks and the day-to-day cash ins and outs - cash and cash flows including short-term placements, investments. Other assigned functions could include taxes, insurance, and payroll, if this is with Finance, other functions assigned by the CFO. Controllership deals with the preparations and analysis of balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statements; plans and budgets,variance analyses (sales, cost of sales, expenses); general accounting and systems design; coordination with IT department (small companies have IT under its wing); economic and business analyses. It may include other areas that may be assigned by the CFO. A big company may have separate head for the each function. Both heads report to the CFO. Both functions give reports and advise to the CFO re day-to-day happening in financial condition, operating results, any thing that affect the financial operation and status of the company. Discussing your coverage with the CFO later would be a good move to set clear expectations. In the mean time, you may want to do the Controllership functions above. Google would also give ready distinction but so would a good finance book. I wish you success in your new job and career.


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