What are the best practices of successful financial controllers in the future?
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What are the best practices of successful financial controllers in the future?

As businesses start to see a return to normal on the horizon, they still face the prospect of growing instability and change.

So what does a controller do in a company these days?

Right now, you face two seemingly simple questions, but whose answers come with profound consequences. If the old” expectations of finance are falling away after the upheaval of the past year, what will take its place, and what is your role in tomorrows finance team?

To answer this, we’re looking at nine changes to your financial controllership function that will transform how your position evolves in the future.

1. Evolve your controllership function

As your financial controllers role evolves, it takes on more executive-focused concerns like investor relations and financial responsibilities that used to be the exclusive preserve of top-level controllers.

Whats more, the rapid expansion of finance functions means swamped CFOs have to rely on their finance controllers to take on additional responsibilities they traditionally covered. Some organizations even bypass with CFOs entirely or have begun combining their CFO and Controller roles, to make de facto executives out of the senior controllers instead.

2. Make performance reporting say more

Performance reporting has in the past been almost a scorekeeping” role for many companies. However, today financial controllers are taking a more proactive part in performance reporting. Responsible for delivering guidance on the real-time monitoring of business objectives using the latest tools to find and visualize complex data in easy-to-digest and engaging ways. Gone are the days of tick boxes. Its down to you to lead the way.

3. Data, data, data (and more data)

Organizations increasingly expect you to move beyond your historical focus on compliance and data accuracy (while maintaining them, of course) and begin moving into a position that genuinely identifies and utilizes the power of your data and experience. Its down to you to provide a clear mandate for viewing your organizations financial data as a dynamic and function-driven toolset instead of simply a fixed reference point.

4. Think bigger. Think strategy.

As your organization integrates disparate departments into a collaborative, mission-driven unit, it will expect your team to make that financial future happen. So strategic thinking will become essential to your controllership functions. Meaning you will need to move beyond the numbers while relating financial data to your businesss goals and objectives. Now financial controllers need to straddle being fixated on details with strong business acumen and ability to communicate at all levels

5. Collaborate and communicate

As your team becomes a hub of knowledge for your organization, youll need to communicate and collaborate more with other departments and key personnel. Compelling communication will become the most powerful tool in your arsenal to achieve strategic goals and a requirement for boosting collaboration and recognizing your contribution to the mission across your organization.

6. Become a hiring legend

As the role of your team evolves, the need for top-quality talent will grow. More than ever, the focus is on finding people who can confront the complex landscape ahead and adapt to a changing context for your roles. And you need to know where to look and how to attract these people, which is no easy matter.

7. The Self-Service Revolution

Much of the future for financial controllers is about the expansion of their role. However, your role's traditional boundaries are also undergoing a revolution, thanks to the explosive growth of financial self-servicing. If you're already using an ERP system, you're probably familiar with new capabilities, like automatically generated employee expense reports and real-time receipt capture. But while self-reporting may be more convenient, your oversight as the financial controller is still essential. Meaning it's down to you to turn employee-generated data into a cohesive, consistent and compliant reporting result.

8. Data Gatekeeper to Data Facilitator

Everyone accepts the financial controller's position as keeper of a company's financial data, which remains central to the successful running of any business. But times change, and tomorrow's integrated organizations need more from their controllers. Your 'gatekeeper' position is shifting to encompass becoming the driving force for data analysis and insights. The expectation is that you will lead the creation and implementation of procedures that identify and share valuable data with those who need it. This role will be at the core of your position as a strategic entity within the business.

9. Know your unknown unknowns

Recent times have taught us that being ready for anything is the reality we live in. Scenario planning and risk management aren't simply wishful thinking or a "nice-to-have"; they are necessary. And their use will grow as you develop your risk planning. They give you the ability to respond to change and forecast in more extensive and more innovative ways so that you're never on the back foot again.

Supercharge your financial controller best practices with Unit4

Our best-in-class solution seamlessly transforms your financial applications, giving your team the day-to-day financial management and real-time insights they need to help drive your financial controllership success.

Get a complete financial picture with real-time drill down from high-level balances down to source documents. Use Flexi-fields” to capture relevant information, helping your people to make better decisions faster. And take the stress out of period close with a single financial model that ensures your accounts are always up-to-date and balanced. Let Unit4 Financials transform your finance teams from backward-looking to forward-driving—with insights, advice and leadership.

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