Hiring the Right Financial Professional: The Controller

Part two of four in a SmartMoney series
Read Part One: The Bookkeeper

The recent recession was a grim reminder that we simply can’t be too careful when it comes to the company’s finances. But what type of financial professional does your company really need? A small operation might do well to hire an experienced bookkeeper, and last time, I talked about how best to go about that.

A larger company might need the managerial skills of a controller. This is more of an investment, but if you invest wisely you’ll reap the rewards.

A controller is charged with running the accounting department as well as producing timely and accurate financial information for management. A controller is a degreed and trained professional who might also have earned the CPA designation. Expect to pay $75,000 to $110,000 depending on location and experience.

The decision to hire a controller is usually based on revenues and financial complexity. While there is no clear line, I’m talking about revenues in the area of $4-$5 million and above.

Typical controller duties include:

  • Issuing financial reports in a timely manner.
  • Hiring and managing accounting department personnel.
  • Ensuring that transactions are posted correctly.
  • Maintaining a system of financial controls.

Other tasks might include communicating with lenders and managing insurance and benefits. Controllers often are responsible for managing outsourced financial functions like payroll.

A competent controller should be able to troubleshoot financials and make recommendations for improving operations. The right person should make or save money for your business.