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Discover leading insights from our finance experts at The Finance People. Use this financial advice to enhance your strategy, to overcome common financial challenges within SMEs, or to better understand key areas of finance for business. 

Do you need a Finance Manager or Finance Controller?

When recruiting a finance expert for your business, it is critical to understand the different types of roles available in order to find the right person for your business. With this in mind, what is the difference between a Finance Manager and Finance Controller, and who does your business need?

A Finance Manager is someone who oversees the financial health of your business. A Finance Manager is tasked with responsibilities such as managing investments and expenses, monitoring cash flow and negotiating financial terms of contracts.

Whereas, a Finance Controller is responsible for the daily financial operations of a business such as accounting and reporting. A Finance Controller will be compile internal reports, as well as keeping track of financial data and trends in order to provide this to the companies directors or FD.

Depending on the business structure, there will likely be some crossover between the tasks that a Finance Manager and Finance Controller undertake. This can make it challenging to know whether your business needs a Finance Manager or Finance Controller. Therefore, in this article we will take a closer look at the differences between the two roles and the factors you need to consider before deciding which finance professional to recruit.

Small business succeeding during recession
If you're unsure which finance professional to recruit for your business, we recommend seeking expert help

The Role of a Finance Manager

As discussed above, a Finance Manager is an individual who will undertake many tasks in order to help the business meet its financial needs. The responsibilities will vary between businesses, but generally the key tasks for a Finance Manager are:

  • Budgeting and forecasting

  • Analysing and presenting monthly and quarterly numbers

  • Improving end-to-end accounting practices

  • Identifying risks and propose solutions

  • Managing the individuals or teams responsible for payroll, VAT etc

  • First point of contact for external auditors

In order to achieve these tasks, the majority of companies will be looking to recruit someone with these skills or qualifications:

  • Degree qualification (or working towards one) in accountancy, finance, mathematics or economics

  • Fluent accounting knowledge and relevant qualification

  • Experience with producing budgets

  • Previous experience running annual audits

  • Attention to detail and very well organised

A Finance Manager is responsible for the financial budget, which includes allocating across varying departments. This means, in addition to the above, the ideal candidate for the role would have fantastic communication skills, with the ability to easily build rapport. They would also need to have an analytical mind and previous experience with negotiations would be beneficial.

Role of a Finance Controller

A Finance Controller is a senior-level manager who oversees the day-to-day financial operations of a business. The tasks will vary dependent on the business, but will likely to include:

  • Many of those that a Financial Manager is tasked with above, if the business is too small to have both roles

  • Financial reporting, both internal such as analysis and external such as tax statements

  • Ensuring the company is in compliance with financial laws and regulations

  • Managing the accounting department, if there is one

  • Accounts payable and receivable

  • Approving invoices and Payroll

  • Working closely with the business owners or directors

When recruiting for a Finance Controller, a business will likely be looking for an individual with the following skills or qualifications:

  • Several years in a finance or accounting role

  • Degree qualification - accountancy, finance, mathematics or economics

  • Fluent accounting knowledge and relevant qualification

  • Relevant and up-to-date knowledge of regulations

  • Comfortable in a leadership role and managing others

  • Works well under pressure and is able to meet deadlines

  • Excellent business acumen

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between a Finance Manager and a Finance Controller

There is some crossover between the characteristics required for both roles, and even some crossover with tasks completed by both. However, there is a clear difference between the roles that can be quickly summed up as responsibility - a Finance Controller has more responsibility, especially when it comes to legal and regulatory matters. Therefore, a Finance Controller is usually paid a higher salary than a Finance Manager, and this is a factor you need to consider when deciding which role to recruit for in your business. You'll also want to consider the business needs and goals, and which role is likely to help you achieve these best, which will ultimately have the biggest pay-off in the long run.

When deciding between a Finance Manager and Finance Controller, another factor you will need to consider the size and complexity of your company, as well as career development opportunities. If there is already someone within the business who is taking the lead on the financial laws and regulations, then you can perhaps make-do with only a Finance Manager. But, if you need someone to take on this responsibility and are not in a position to employee both a Finance Manager and a Finance Controller, then you will be looking to recruit a Finance Controller.

Does my business need a Finance Manager or Finance Controller?

As you can see, this will be based upon your businesses structure, resources, budget and size. Both roles do have some overlap and it can be extremely confusing to ascertain which finance professional to recruit for your business, if you are still unsure then we recommend seeking expert guidance.

At The Finance People, we offer complimentary consultations for this exact reason, get in touch with us to discuss your business and it's requirements, and we'll be able to help you decide which finance expert would be the best fit for your business.

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