Tips for the would-be financial controller
Becoming a financial controller can be a springboard to a management position. Finance directors and higher executives increasingly rely on financial controllers to assume responsibility for internal finances.
Dynamic CPAs should not be discouraged by either the increased complexity of the financial controller role, or the fact that becoming one is a trend. Both recruiters and employers say demand for talented financial controllers far outstrips supply both in Hong Kong and many other key financial markets.
If you have your career sights on financial controllership, but feel you are not quite ready, here is some expert advice on honing your skill set in addition to enrolling in the Institute’s inaugural course next year:
1. Work outside your comfort zone Actively seek out opportunities to get involved in activities related to the financial controller position, such as investor relations. That will serve you in good stead when you find your financial controller position, and beyond, up to CFO level.
2. Develop a career plan Write down your personal development plan. The practice of writing — and discussing your plan with a mentor — will help to develop your thinking and open up opportunities.
3. Choose the right workplace Make sure you are in an environment that can lead to financial controller possibilities. Ensuring you are somewhere you can make a mark, such as a complex business with subsidiaries, will enable you to obtain diverse experience in various business units.
4. Hone your soft skills Emphasize communication, leadership and networking. These are among the skills in which accountants often need. Internal corporate training often isn’t enough: take external courses to reinforce these skills.
5. Learn to delegate Financial controllership is a rung on the management ladder so learn how to assign lower-level technical accounting to reliable junior staff.
6. Get out and about Financial controllers are expected to know the factory – or office – floor. Know your divisions and departments and meet the independent directors. Work with them so they know how the finance function helps them achieve mutual objectives.
7. Be proactive Use your experience and understanding to make responsible forecasts. Identify what data senior management and the board require so they can make informed decisions.
Source: : HKICPA's APlus Magazine – October 2013