what is a financial controller?

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

As a financial controller, you are responsible for maintaining a company's current and future stability. You 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.

Financial controllers work in any industry, including both the public and private sectors. Whether you work in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, technology consultancies, not-for-profit organizations or financial services, you perform the same responsibilities. However, the size of the business influences your duties. For instance, in a small 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 accounting complexity and the finance team's size. You could specialize in finance management or supervise the accounting team. The role usually requires strong analytical skills as you handle statistical data.

Would working as a financial controller suit your financial acumen and strong analytical skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a financial controller role.

financial controller jobs

average financial controller salary

According to Job Bank, financial controllers take home an average salary of $115,000 per year, which translates to an hourly rate of $58.97. In an entry-level position, you start with a salary of $85,000 annually. When you have experience and additional qualifications, you make up to $194,435 per year.

how can you increase your salary as a financial controller?

Your qualifications and experience influence your salary. When you are new to the role, you earn a lower salary due to minimal experience and qualifications. As you improve your experience, your salary will also increase gradually. Having additional certifications also boosts your earning potential.

The company size also determines your earnings. For instance, when you work in a small company, you are in charge of fewer financial resources. Hence, you earn a lower salary than financial controllers working in large companies with substantial financial resources.

The location may also influence your earnings due to fluctuations in demand and cost of living. In large cities, you are likely to earn more due to the high cost of living and demand for financial controllers from large companies.

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types of financial controllers

The role of a finance controller has four main aspects:

  • Stewards: as a steward, you conserve and protect a company's resources. You accurately report the company's financial position, manage risks and preserve your 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.
woman and man having a conversation
woman and man having a conversation

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.


financial controller skills and education

To work as a financial controller in Canada, you should meet the following requirements:

  • bachelor’s degree: a university degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a financial controller. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting or finance. You may also need a master’s degree in business administration or finance to take up leadership positions.
  • certifications and work experience: aside from a bachelor’s degree, you require certifications to improve your employment prospects. For instance, complete the qualification to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). Other important certifications for financial controllers are the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certificate and the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certificate.

competencies and characteristics of financial controllers

Some of the personal qualities of a financial controller include:

  • computing skills: as a finance controller, it is crucial 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 analyzing it to make decisions.
  • communication skills: as a finance controller, you should 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 analyze various financial information and accounting data. For instance, you analyze 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, being a good leader helps you manage and motivate people to optimize their performance. Leadership skills also help you become more strategic in your approach.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a financial controller.


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