Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Attributes of the ideal outsourced controller

Credentials The number one attribute of the ideal candidate is an accounting degree with an active CPA license, preferably with big 4 audit experience of five years or more.  An active license means they are fulfilling the 40 hour per year continuing education requirement – you want someone committed to lifelong learning.  

Experience Being highly experienced in all aspects of running a finance department is critical.  An experienced outsourced controller can clearly articulate their approach towards designing and streamlining transaction processes, has clear month end close checklists and balance sheet account reconciliation procedures and has an exceptional ability to view other department heads and senior managers as their customers – meeting their information needs with timely and accurate reports.  Reporting not only refers to the ability of the controller to produce the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows (historical and forecasted), but extends to reporting on performance, sales and various operational metrics.  

Personality Finance is simply accumulating the results of all other company functions – interacting well with everyone from purchasing, materials management and the supply chain, to human resources, customer service and the sales force is absolutely critical. 

Technological savvy – This is the magic that allows any controller - outsourced or not, to be 50% more efficient than their less tech savvy counterparts.  The IT folks are a controller’s best friend and your ideal outsourced controller is a computer super user and loves technology of all kinds.
Objective rather than time focusedKnowing what the objectives need to be is the first step; being focused on only those objectives is critical to efficiency in the controller role.  The person who spends 40 hours a week at their job will either complete the job in that time frame or think of things to do to fill that time.  An objective oriented outsourced controller only stays in your office long enough to complete the tasks; this person has other clients and has no interest in lingering for the sake of spending time.  In the interview process this quality can be difficult to ascertain; rely on prior client referrals to determine whether your outsourced controller candidate can truly be more efficient than a full time resource, based on an objective rather than time orientation.