The business controller of the future
The controller of the future is a strategic business partner of the Board of Directors.
There is an increasing demand for interim finance professionals who have strategic insight and soft skills. This means that the responsibility of the financial manager is expanding, and the profession is becoming more multifaceted.
Boer & Croon has been placing interim CFOs for years. We are well known for having a good network. In other words, we are already serving that very highest tier. However, there is an increasing demand for senior professionals who are capable of filling positions in the broader layer underneath that.
This finance interim management is the field of work that Gert-Jan Kievit is involved in. What better way to help a CFO than to provide them with a good team?´
KNOW THE BUSINESS, NOT JUST THE FIGURES
Gert-Jan: 'Lately, there has been an increasing demand for financial controllers, and especially for good business controllers. The distinction between them is that the former looks retrospectively and checks, whereas a business controller looks ahead and contributes ideas together with the organisation. This person can give an opinion on matters such as the acquisition of a company or the setting up of a new factory.'
'That strategic profile makes her or him of great added value for the CFO and the rest of the Board of Directors. A traditional controller is solely and exclusively involved with the finances. But a company like McDonalds has not become so huge because they have their finances in order, but because they know how to sell hamburgers like no one else. A business controller needs to have a thorough understanding of the business, not just the figures.'
Another step up in efficiency and added value is what we call a business partner. This partner can help with the calculations of various business cases and conduct various scenario analyses on them. They have a fitting name for this at KPN: business navigator. This means that a controller is not so much concerned with looking retrospectively at whether everything has taken place in accordance with the budget agreements, but is able to navigate and assist the CFO wherever she or he needs it, whether that involves a financial analysis of a proposed investment or strategic advice.´
NEVER BUSINESS AS USUAL
'Obviously, all of the above has an impact on the placement of interim financials. Other competencies are needed. Strategic insight, people management, persuasive power and storytelling. You really need to have the ability to convey things clearly to the rest of the organisation. These are traits that are often far removed from the nature of a controller. Which is why I devote particular attention to whether a candidate is enterprising and can drive change. And, very important for an interim professional, whether she or he is organisation-sensitive. After all, Boer & Croon is not hired if nothing is the matter. It is never business as usual; there is always a challenge. This might concern an acquisition, implementation or restructuring, but also the expansion of the finance team with a business controller.´
FINANCIALS OF THE FUTURE
'I am not a CV shuffler, but I do personally know everyone in my network. I know what kind of assignments they prefer and in which sectors. We also hold regular get-togethers where everyone gets to know each other. The same goes for knowledge events or a day during which something like storytelling is practised. This is the only way to build up a relationship and to offer extra support to the professional when this is wanted. I always remain responsible for and involved in the assignment.´
'This way of working has another important advantage. Since we are involved in the whole process, we know at an early stage if and when more input is needed. We can work more proactively that way and already start looking for available candidates. Whenever other agencies are called to ask whether they can recommend a candidate right away, we are often already busy with the selection process.'
´You can see that finance and technology are converging more and more. This is why the financials of the future must be able to work smoothly with data systems. It is important that they are up to speed with Power BI and other reporting tools. Because financials usually have a highly analytical mind, they are able to create insights from data and are therefore able to provide a good overview of the financial position. Also, some programming knowledge is becoming more and more important. On the other hand, as I have already pointed out, more and more demands are being made on soft skills. The task portfolio of the controller is becoming increasingly more elaborate. That only makes the profession more interesting´