The Divisional Financial Controller of one of the fastest-growing banks in the Asia-Pacific is definitely not an old-school financial controller. He’s not just a bookkeeper maintaining the bank’s general ledger, preparing financial statements, and managing risks. He’s doing much more than that…
The bank wants to start operations at a low-cost destination to contain costs, but the same destination registers severe currency volatility. The Management Board is uncertain and comes to the controller and his team for advice and business insights.
No. This case isn’t an exception. The finance function is increasingly stepping in to resolve conflicting priorities and support the business agenda, making the controller’s role more strategic, broader and futuristic and turning it into a powerful interstellar navigator helping the business fly safely through the dangers of storms and finding the ports of opportunities. So what are futuristic financial controllers doing differently to make a difference to their business? Three things, as I see it.
Finsight! For the new-age financial controller, finance and insight go hand in hand. Finsight if you please. They work closely with and gain insights into the company’s production, operations, supply chain, sales, marketing, and human resources. Their analysis and interpretations are not unidimensional and finance-driven only. They are real-time and business-driven, with insights drawn from each business function. They are transforming controllership into to ‘insightful controllership’.
Agility! Smart controllers realize the importance of exploring new business models that set them free for more strategic matters like managing business partnerships. They leverage partners and realize that BPO provide them with help they need. Mature BPO providers are adept in compliance, reporting, and auditing processes; and they can become an extended arm for the controller. This makes it easy to have control mechanisms in place, have better contact with the general ledger function, reduce reaction time, harmonize the function and assure business agility.
Holistic approach! The controller supports the strategic needs of the CFO’s office. In that sense, controller is no longer “scorekeeper” but is expected to act as a “goalkeeper”. But how to assure a holistic view better then looking at the Total Cost of Service? Point solutions that merely automate the payables and receivables processes are not enough to meet the demands that tug at the controller. What works best is a stack approach that focuses on optimizing the Total Cost of Service while combining analytics-driven finance processes, state-of-the-art apps, and hassle-free, cost-effective, and customizable infrastructure.
Corporate cops? No more! The (insightful) controller has arrived. What’s better – no need to reach to scarce source of melange of planet Dune to guide the corporate ship through the storms! Instead… fashionable apps, analytics and cloud!
PS: For those who prefer melange… find out more in the book by Frank Herbert: Dune. There is little though on financial controllers 😉