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The role of financial controller

The financial controller occupies a core financial position within any commercial organisation, be it an SME or a multinational company. It is a popular role amongst accounting & finance professionals, and candidates with strong experience are highly sought after by employers.

The role of a financial controller

The role of the financial controller can be routine and process driven, particularly when it comes to tasks such as month-end or statutory reporting. However, it can also be challenging and interesting. Reporting is actually just a small part of the role - a financial controller may also be responsible for treasury, tax, financial planning and the growth of commercial business partnerships, amongst other responsibilities.

Who's in demand?

Oftentimes employers will look at experienced professionals in senior positions within the finance team, when trying to fill these roles. It's important to be be technically astute and to have sound knowledge of financial fundamentals. Knowledge of general ledger, budgeting, forecasting, accounting standards and compliance regulations are essential, and you will have to demonstrate the ability to see not only the micro, but the macro side of things. In Hong Kong, potential employees with strong grasp of Hong Kong listing/GAAP requirements, are also highly valued.

Getting ahead of competition

Given the competitive nature of the market, a classic accounting background with a Big 4 company and commercial finance experience is highly regarded and preferred by most employers. Three to four years of auditing experience with a Big 4 will give you a huge head start to make the move into a financial reporting role, and eventually, a financial controller role. Candidates without the necessary qualifications should consider acquiring accreditation from a professional body, or accumulate substantial experiences in a commercial environment.

Three to four years of auditing experience with a Big 4 will give you a huge head start to make the move into a financial reporting role, and eventually, a financial controller role. 

Job responsibilities and progression

Finance controllers can often move on to become finance directors, CFOs, or even COOs. The core responsibilities of the position will include financial reporting, business budgeting and forecasting, business development projects, treasury management, risk evaluation and business analysis. In Hong Kong, particularly listed companies, statutory reporting and analysis will also form a big part of a financial controller’s job. Overall, financial controllers remain highly sought-after in Asia.  

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