Business Controller or Outsourced CFO

At Finaly, we work with our client companies as outsourced CFOs, responsible for guiding business growth together with the CEO (as well as management and the board). CFOs also shape the financial culture through their example and communication. They always seek a more far-reaching view to identify opportunities and potential threats and to present their recommendations and action plans for the future.

However, one often hears discussions about whether a company should hire its own Business Controller or an outsourced CFO. Both have their merits, and in this article, you will find our thoughts on the matter.

If you’re interested in outsourced CFO services, you should check out our previously written article here.

At Finaly, we handle Business Controller tasks as well as the overall financial leadership.

What or who is a Business Controller?

A Business Controller is involved in running the company’s operational activities, such as matters affecting financial statements and tasks related to purchase and sales invoices. Compared to an outsourced CFO, a Business Controller generally has a broader understanding of the financial world and more skills to focus on financial planning, investments, and tasks related to capital markets rather than daily accounting. We’re not saying there isn’t a need for these roles in certain companies, and hiring a Business Controller is profitable, for example, in a company whose transaction volumes have grown so large that they can no longer manage with an accounting firm and want to manage internal operations more concretely in financial management.

What kind of need does a Business Controller fit?

It is impossible to model a situation in this article where one specific role fits better than another. Hiring a Business Controller makes sense, for example, when the company’s top management (usually the CEO) has such expertise that there is no need for an outsourced CFO. Usually, the CEO also wants to manage financial matters themselves, making a Business Controller who supports their work and activities a sensible option. Generally, hiring a Business Controller makes sense when the focus is mainly on ensuring that things are done correctly – not requiring a partner and insight into finance and the business itself.

What kind of need does an outsourced CFO fit?

An outsourced CFO fits the company’s needs when a broader understanding of the entire financial world, financial planning, leadership, investments, and genuinely creating a new financial management culture are desired. At Finaly, we ask whether we want to do the right things or do things right? An outsourced CFO is usually the right solution for companies looking to grow and develop. On the other hand, an external expert brings new opinions and perspectives to decision-making – the company’s top management should consider amidst all the rush whether the way things have always been done is the right way. We often say in the office that if you don’t make the change yourself, someone else might make the change.

If you’re interested in the tasks of an outsourced CFO, you should check out our article here.

Summary – Business Controller or outsourced CFO?

Even after this article, there is no one right answer to the question above. In a grocery store, fruits like apples and bananas can be compared, but what if we add oranges to the mix? Through this analogy, we seek to emphasize that the company’s top management should always first consider how financial management is organized in the company. For example, as the company grows, roles should be re-evaluated – what is the responsibility of the top management, and would an outsourced CFO be beneficial? Or is a Business Controller who manages operational matters excellently sufficient?

At best, we combine these roles and activities and organize operations in companies so that an outsourced CFO covers both roles as a service.

If your company is considering financial management, book a free and non-binding discussion with Anne! You’ll get at least good coaching and invaluable tips for developing your company’s finances.

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