In the ever-changing roles of CFOs in the Finance and Insurance industry, one thing will never change—the need to lead and manage an effective finance team. Successful CFOs collaborate closely with their controllers in defining strategies that impact key areas including real-time business insights, enterprise-wide data visibility, and integrated financial management across entities. Check out the 5 questions you should be asking your controller to ensure the best outcome for your organization and drive growth!
Q1: How many manual journal entries are we making during the closing process?
An excessive number of manual journal entries needlessly extend a closing period—and can also be a leading indicator of lurking problems. They can conceal anomalies and errors that actually have broad, systemic roots. You may be plagued with variable accounting processes—or a level of complexity that calls for revised standards. To optimize the closing process and reduce the incidence of manual journal entries, you and your controller can consider implementing these best practices:
- Create comprehensive policies
- Work with auditors
- Formalize the process of manual journal entries
- Store documentation with manual entries
Q2: Have you reviewed compliance with local jurisdictions?
As one of the few people with a direct role in virtually every transaction that flows through the corporate accounting structure, the controller can—and should—play a central role in identifying and minimizing the company’s risk exposure. This is especially critical for growing companies, whose regulatory compliance risks steadily increase in magnitude and quantity over time. The following best practices can help your controller steer your company clear of unnecessary risks.
- Create a risk framework
- Conduct regular risk reviews
- Ensure local jurisdiction compliance
Q3: How long does it take to close our books? What’s holding things up?
The best measure of controller efficiency is how quickly and accurately the team closes the books. Start with strong planning and preparation, such as handling all billing and expense issues prior to the period end. Automation is also essential—it provides the desired speed, efficiency, and accuracy without increasing staffing levels.
A fast close enables the accounting and finance team to move beyond merely reporting results and into forward-looking activities that can shape future outcomes. You and the executive team need financial information as soon as possible to make any necessary course corrections. This information includes traditional financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows) as well as operational reports and detailed analyses of business results.
- Create a closing scorecard
- Create a flash close report
- Automate for speed
- Know the forecast
Q4: Are we still using Excel? If so, why?
The continued use of Excel may reflect a sort of “inertia” based on inexperience with other tools, or just plain comfortable familiarity. While there are many reasons to limit Microsoft Excel use in corporate accounting—such as its inherently breakable models, security issues, and lack of shareability—it can still be useful to controllers in certain situations. Love it or hate it, Excel has been—and will likely remain—one of the go-to components in every accountant’s toolkit. Just make sure you’re clear on why you are using it. Some of the best practices for using Excel include:
- For isolated tasks
- As an ad hoc reporting tool
- For ancillary reporting
Q5: Can we integrate our financial information and our operating metrics?
Because many financial systems can now accommodate analyses of operating metrics to create a richer, fuller picture of the business, the controller is assuming a role as the provider of financial visibility—once the domain of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams or the CFO. Merging financial data and operational metrics could help your organization in the following ways:
- Spot the opportunities
- Emphasize operational metrics
- Establish the financial truth
Exploring the answers to these five questions with your controller will help create a stronger, more effective financial structure. Click here to download the full whitepaper.
As always feel free to contact Roghnu with any questions or concerns you may have! We love to help!