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10 Signs Your Business Should Hire a Financial Controller

Explore the critical role of a financial controller and discover ten signs indicating when your growing business needs this financial expertise.
When to hire a financial controller



In the dynamic world of business, financial management is a critical pillar that can make or break your venture. As your business grows, so does the complexity of your financial operations. This is where a financial controller comes into play. But how do you know when it’s the right time to bring one on board? In this article, we delve into the role of a financial controller and provide you with ten signs that indicate it’s time for your business to hire one.

Understanding the Role of a Financial Controller

A financial controller is a vital cog in the financial management wheel of a business. They are the custodians of a company’s financial health, overseeing all aspects of financial management, from basic bookkeeping to complex regulatory compliance.

What Does a Financial Controller Do?

At the heart of a financial controller’s role is the responsibility for managing the company’s financial integrity. They ensure that the company’s financial reports are accurate, timely, and compliant with the relevant regulations. They oversee the company’s accounting operations, including the production of periodic financial reports, maintenance of accounting records, and implementation of comprehensive set of controls and budgets.

Financial controllers also play a strategic role in a company. They provide valuable financial insights that help shape the company’s strategic planning and decision-making. They analyze financial data, monitor financial performance, and make recommendations to improve profitability and growth.

Financial Controller vs. CFO vs. Other Financial Roles

While the roles of a financial controller, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and other financial roles may seem similar, they each have distinct responsibilities.

A CFO is a strategic role that focuses on the future financial direction of the company. They are involved in strategic planning, capital structure decisions, investment opportunities, and stakeholder relations.

On the other hand, a financial controller is more operationally focused. They manage the day-to-day financial operations and ensure the accuracy and integrity of the financial information.

Other financial roles, such as accountants and bookkeepers, are more focused on the tactical aspects of financial management, such as recording transactions, managing accounts payable and receivable, and preparing tax returns.

In essence, a financial controller acts as a bridge between the strategic oversight of the CFO and the tactical execution of accountants and bookkeepers. They ensure that the company’s financial operations are running smoothly and efficiently, providing the foundation for sound financial decision-making.

When Your Business Needs a Financial Controller

When you need a financial controller

If you’re considering hiring a financial controller, but not sure if you should, here are the signs that your business might be ready:

1. Rapid Business Growth & Increased Financial Complexity

The first sign that your business might need a financial controller is rapid growth. As your business expands, the volume and complexity of financial transactions increase. You might be dealing with larger budgets, more employees, and a broader customer base. This growth can strain your existing financial management systems and processes.

For instance, if you started as a small online retailer and have now opened physical stores, the financial complexity of your operations has increased. You’re dealing with inventory management, payroll for store employees, and possibly different tax obligations. A financial controller can help manage these complexities, allowing you to focus on running your business.

2. Introduction of New Revenue Streams or Business Lines

Diversifying your business with new revenue streams or business lines is a sign of success. However, it also adds to the complexity of your financial management. Each new business line or revenue stream may have its own unique financial management requirements.

For example, if you’ve added a subscription service to your product-based business, you’re now dealing with recurring revenue, which requires different accounting practices. A financial controller can manage these different requirements, ensuring accurate tracking and reporting for each business line.

3. Expansion to New Locations or Markets

Expanding your business to new locations or markets is an exciting step. However, it also brings new financial management challenges. Different locations or markets may have different tax laws, currencies, and financial regulations.

If you’re a U.S.-based company opening a branch in Europe, you’ll need to navigate VAT, different employment laws, and possibly deal with foreign currency transactions. A financial controller with international experience can help manage these complexities, ensuring your business remains compliant and financially efficient.

4. Increased Regulatory & Compliance Requirements

As your business grows, you may find yourself subject to more stringent regulatory and compliance requirements. These could be industry-specific regulations, data protection laws, or financial reporting standards. Non-compliance can result in penalties and damage to your business’s reputation.

For instance, if your business has recently gone public, you’re now subject to SEC reporting requirements. A financial controller can ensure you meet these requirements, reducing the risk of non-compliance.

5. Need for More Detailed & Strategic Financial Reporting

As your business becomes more complex, you’ll need more detailed and strategic financial reporting. You may need to track financial performance by business line, location, or product. You may also need more detailed cash flow forecasts, profitability analysis, or budget variance reports.

For example, if you’ve launched a new product line, you’ll want to track its profitability separately. A financial controller can set up the necessary financial reports and provide the insights you need to make informed business decisions.

6. The Business Owner is Overwhelmed with Financial Tasks

If you, as a business owner, find yourself spending more time on financial tasks than on strategic business activities, it’s a clear sign you need a financial controller. Managing financial tasks can be time-consuming and distract you from your core responsibilities.

For instance, if you’re staying late to reconcile accounts or prepare financial reports, a financial controller can take over these tasks. This allows you to focus on strategic activities like business development, customer relations, and product innovation.

 7. The Need for Improved Cash Flow Management

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. As your business grows, managing cash flow becomes more complex. You may have more customers, suppliers, and employees, each of which affects your cash flow.

For example, if your business has recently won a large contract, you may need to invest in additional inventory or hire more staff. These investments can strain your cash flow, especially if the customer pays on long payment terms. A financial controller can help manage your cash flow, ensuring you have the funds necessary to fulfill the contract while maintaining your other business operations.

8. The Need for Better Financial Risk Management

As your business grows, so does your exposure to financial risks. These could be risks related to currency fluctuations, customer non-payment, supplier price increases, or changes in market conditions. Effective financial risk management can help protect your business from these risks.

For instance, if you’re exporting goods, you’re exposed to the risk of currency fluctuations. A financial controller can help manage this risk, possibly by using financial instruments such as forward contracts to lock in exchange rates.

9. The Need for More Efficient Financial Systems and Processes

As your business expands, your existing financial systems and processes may no longer be sufficient. You may need more advanced accounting software, automated financial processes, or better financial controls.

For example, if you’re still using basic accounting software, you may struggle to manage the volume of transactions or the complexity of your financial operations. A financial controller can help select and implement more advanced financial systems, improving the efficiency of your financial management.

10. The Need for a Strategic Financial Advisor for Business Decision-Making

As your business becomes more complex, you’ll need a strategic financial advisor to help guide your business decisions. This is more than just producing financial reports – it’s about interpreting the data, providing financial insights, and advising on financial strategy.

For instance, if you’re considering a major investment, such as buying a competitor or investing in new technology, a financial controller can provide a financial analysis of the investment, advise on the potential returns and risks, and help you make an informed decision.

The Impact of a Financial Controller on Your Business

Hiring a financial controller can have a transformative impact on your business. Here are some of the key benefits a financial controller can bring:

  • Improved Financial Management: A financial controller can streamline your financial operations, improve the accuracy of your financial reporting, and ensure compliance with financial regulations. This can reduce the risk of financial errors and non-compliance penalties.
  • Enhanced Strategic Planning: With their financial expertise, a financial controller can provide valuable insights for strategic planning. They can help you understand the financial implications of different business strategies, making your decision-making process more informed and effective.
  • Increased Financial Efficiency: A financial controller can implement more efficient financial systems and processes. This can reduce the time and cost of financial management, freeing up resources for other business activities.
  • Better Risk Management: A financial controller can help manage financial risks, such as currency fluctuations, customer non-payment, or changes in market conditions. This can protect your business from potential financial losses.

Evaluating the Cost-Benefit of Hiring a Financial Controller

Hiring a financial controller is a significant decision that involves an investment in your business’s future. It’s essential to consider the cost-benefit analysis of this decision, taking into account the potential return on investment (ROI) that a financial controller can bring to your business.

Full-Time vs. Freelance vs. Outsourced Financial Controller

The first step in this analysis is to consider the different hiring options available. You could hire a full-time financial controller, engage a freelancer, or outsource the role to a financial services firm. Each option has its own cost implications and potential benefits.

For instance, a full-time financial controller, while potentially more expensive, offers consistency and a deep understanding of your business. A freelancer might offer more flexibility and lower costs, but they may not be as immersed in your business. Outsourcing to a firm can provide a breadth of expertise and scalability while also reducing costs.

Here’s a simple comparison of the three options:

Hiring Option Pros Cons
Full-Time Deep understanding of your business, Consistency, Long-term commitment Highest cost, Additional overheads (benefits, taxes, etc.)
Freelance Lower cost, Flexibility, Specific expertise Less immersion in your business, Potential availability issues
Outsourced Breadth of expertise, Scalability, Access to latest technology, Low cost Less control over personnel

How to Hire the Right Financial Controller

Choosing the right financial controller for your business is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your financial management. It’s not just about qualifications and experience; it’s also about finding someone who fits well with your business culture and aligns with your business goals. At 1840 & Company, we understand the importance of this decision. We offer flexible hiring solutions tailored to your specific needs, whether you’re looking for a full-time financial controller, a freelancer, or an outsourced service. Our goal is to help you find the right financial expertise to support your business’s growth and success, without compromising on quality or integrity. Learn more about our services and how we can assist you in hiring the ideal financial controller.


In conclusion, recognizing the right time to hire a financial controller can be a pivotal moment in your business’s growth journey. From managing increased financial complexity to providing strategic financial insights, a financial controller can bring significant value to your business. At 1840 & Company, we’re here to help you navigate this important decision and find the right financial expertise to support your business’s success. Remember, the goal is not just to grow, but to grow wisely, and a financial controller can be a key player in achieving that goal.

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