what is a finance controller?

As a finance controller, you oversee finance teams. You participate in the budget setting process and support various departments in maintaining their budgets. You also work with various professionals and provide support in financial planning. Therefore, you need experience with accounting technologies to aid your performance. You must also juggle your duties with other managerial responsibilities, such as supervising the accounting team.

Finance controllers have a huge responsibility toward maintaining a business' current and future stability. They need exceptional skills in accounting and decision-making to take control and be accountable for a company's financial strategies, cost-reduction opportunities and growth evaluation.

Finance controllers work in any industry in the public or the private sector. Whether you work in fast-moving consumer goods companies, technology consultancies, not-for-profit organisations or financial services, you perform the same responsibilities. However, the size of the business influences your duties. For instance, in a smaller company, you manage the business's financial affairs directly, but you may also handle the duties of a finance manager. In large companies, your duties depend on the complexity of the accounting and the size of the finance team. You could specialise in finance management or supervise the accounting team. The role usually requires strong analytical skills as you handle a lot of statistical data.

Would working as a finance controller suit your mastery of office technology and analytical skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a finance controller role.

finance controller jobs

average finance controller salary

Finance controllers work in different industries, and the compensation package varies accordingly. For instance, the earnings of a finance controller in a technology company differ from non-profit organisations due to the diverse roles and duties.

According to ONS, the average salary of a finance controller is £55,000 per year, which translates to £28 an hour. When you are new in the role with minimal skills and experience, your compensation package starts at £45,000 annually. However, your salary will increase as your skills and expertise improve and you take up more complex roles in the company. Top finance controllers earn over £75,000 per year.

The compensation package usually includes various allowances and non-monetary benefits. For instance, most employers provide transport allowances, as well as medical insurance and contributions to a pension scheme. Year-end bonuses and other perks are also typical in the role.

Different industries have unique pay structures depending on the complexity of the accounting roles. Choosing between the public and private sectors also influences your salary. Companies in the private sector may have the resources to pay more than public and not-for-profit organisations.


woman employee smiling back
woman employee smiling back

types of finance controllers

The role of a finance controller has four main aspects:

  • stewards: as a steward, a finance controller conserves and protects a company's resources. You accurately report on the company's financial position, manage risks and preserve the employer's assets.
  • operators: as an operator, you ensure efficient and effective operations in the accounting department. That involves managing the accounting process to ensure accuracy.
  • catalysts: as a catalyst, you drive execution by providing the correct information at the appropriate time to stakeholders. You help in decision making and guide decision-makers to the best options.
  • strategists: as a strategic finance controller, you help the executive team drive the company's growth. You aid the development of business strategies.


working as a financial controller

Finance controllers work with accounting and finance teams to control finance and administrative functions. Let's explore the specific roles, work environment and career outlook of a finance controller.


education and skills

You need the following academic qualifications to become a finance controller:

  • degree: to become a finance controller, you need an undergraduate degree in finance, accounting or a related business course. The degree introduces you to the financial concepts that you will use to control and manage finances for a company. While most companies hire finance controllers with just an undergraduate degree, having a master's degree increases your chances of landing a job.
  • work experience: you need extensive work experience to become a finance controller. For instance, you can start as an accountant or financial analyst and improve your skills to become a finance controller.

skills and competencies

Some of the personal qualities of a financial controller include:

  • computing skills: as a finance controller, you need to be familiar with office technology to succeed. For instance, you should master the Microsoft Office suite, especially Excel and Databases. Your computing skills are useful in bringing together the information you have gathered and analysing it to make decisions.
  • communication skills: as a finance controller, you must be a great communicator to relay information to the accounting team. Communication skills also help you explain the risks of an investment to the executive team in simple terms.
  • analytical skills: finance controllers analyse various financial information and accounting data. For instance, you analyse financial accounts during internal audits and assess the risks of an investment. Analytical skills help you improve your decision-making.
  • leadership and management skills: as a finance controller, you have to be a good leader to manage and motivate people to optimise their performance. Leadership skills also help you become more strategic in your approach.

woman walking downstairs
woman walking downstairs


FAQs about working as a finance controller

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