The developing role of the financial controller: evidence from the UK

Alan Graham (Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Susan Davey‐Evans (Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Ian Toon (Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

Journal of Applied Accounting Research

ISSN: 0967-5426

Publication date: 25 May 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the work roles undertaken by financial controllers. The literature suggests a recent transformation, with the role of the finance professional making a significant shift from “score‐keeper” to a “value‐added” business partner. The paper suggests that the role has undergone a more complex change and combines elements from both of these descriptions.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodological approach starts by analysing job specifications of financial controller vacancies. Using survey data, it then establishes what tasks they now do. Finally, it uses interviews to understand whether financial controllers believe that they could add more value to the organisation and if any barriers exist preventing the transformation of the role.

Findings

The findings suggest that the role of financial controller has not transformed in recent years, but has instead enlarged, incorporating more “forward‐looking” elements, which are concerned with the management of the whole business. These developments have not replaced the “traditional” tasks such as reporting and control, but are supplementary to them. The research also indicates that financial controllers believe that the role should be expanded and that they could add more value, but are constrained by external pressures.

Research limitations/implications

The authors acknowledge that this paper does not consider the contingent factors which shape the individual role within different types and sizes of business, but nevertheless it discusses many of the characteristics associated with the complex role.

Originality/value

This paper has implications for finance and accounting managers working in business, the accounting bodies and those involved in accounting education.

Keywords

Citation

Graham, A., Davey‐Evans, S. and Toon, I. (2012), "The developing role of the financial controller: evidence from the UK", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 71-88. https://doi.org/10.1108/09675421211231934

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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