“Don’t ever let your business get ahead of the financial side of your business. Know your numbers.”
Tilman J. Fertitta, Businessman
Pros and Cons of Working as a Financial Controller
You consider becoming a financial controller? Before you make your final decision, check out all the pros and cons of being a financial controller in this blog post.
You may change your mind and go for an alternative career path after evaluating all the arguments in the following chapters.
Being a Financial Controller – Key Facts
|Short Job Description||Financial controllers are responsible for managing risk, managing accounting tasks and publishing financial statements.|
|Salary||$90,000 per year on average, ranging from $65,000 – $220,000.|
|Job Security||High job security.|
|Job Satisfaction||Average job satisfaction.|
|Work-Life Balance||Average, depending on the company and field you work in.|
|Physically / Mentally Demanding?||Mentally demanding job.|
|Future Outlook||Decent job prospects in the future, even though some jobs will be lost due to automatization.|
Advantages of Being a Financial Controller
- Financial controllers can earn decent salaries
- You can work with numbers
- Financial controllers can report to the management
- Being a financial controller can be challenging
- You will work with many different departments
- Financial controllers learn a lot in the first years
- Controllers often have regular working hours
- Good work-life balance
- You can work inside
- Financial controllers often get into leading positions
- You can work for many different companies
- You can also work in different countries as a financial controller
- Financial controllers can build a strong business network
- You can teach and mentor your younger colleagues
Financial controllers can earn decent salaries
One advantage of being a financial controller is that you can earn really good money from your job. Many financial controllers start with an income of more than 80,000 dollars a year after they finished college. More experienced controllers earn a six-figure income in most states and if you get a leading position in your company, 200,000 dollars + are quite common.
Hence, if money is really important to you and you aspire to a fancy lifestyle with a nice house and everything that comes along with it, becoming a financial controller can be a great career path for you in this regard.
You can work with numbers
As a financial controller, you will work with numbers quite often. If you are like me who likes working with numbers, being a financial controller can be perfect for you. However, if you don’t like working with numbers, the opposite can be true.
Therefore, you should take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you are a rather analytical person who has a certain talent for seeing patterns and processing numbers or if you are a rather creative person who does not want to work with numbers in the long run.
If you fall into the first category, chances are that a career as a financial controller will be suitable for you since processing numbers will be one of your main tasks in this field.
Financial controllers can report to the management
Another benefit of being a financial controller is that you can work and report closely to the management of the company you work for. The smaller the company, the higher the chances that you will report directly to the senior management and this means that you will meet the most important people in your company.
If you do a good job, this will not only make it more likely to get a decent raise or promotions. It will also mean that you know exactly what’s going on inside the company and you get an important advantage when it comes to decisions of whether you should stay with a company or leave in case of potential financial distress.
Being a financial controller can be challenging
As a financial controller, you will often face situations that are rather tense and you will not know exactly what to do at first. However, you will find solutions to those problems sooner or later and this will make you much more confident. In fact, we as humans only grow if we have to deal with difficult people and situations.
By working as a financial controller, you will make those experiences quite often since you will talk to many different people within your firm who often have quite different views on how budgets should be distributed and which projects should be prioritized over others.
You will work with many different departments
In general, you will also have to work with many different departments within your company. Financial controlling has to take into account several different opinions and projects to make a company successful and competitive in the long run. This means that you can not just shorten a budget if you like to do so.
You have to evaluate all the consequences that come along with your actions and those effects can be pretty complex and hard to forecast properly. Thus, while satisfying many different departments can be quite challenging, it also gives you the opportunity to talk to many people and to expand your view regarding how your company really works.
With a better understanding of the processes that are going on in the firm you work for, you will also better understand what it takes to get promotions.
Financial controllers learn a lot in the first years
Another upside of becoming a financial controller is that you will also learn a lot during your first years of your career. Many financial controllers get plenty of responsibility even right after college and if you have the right mentor on your side, you will soon become an important factor for the success of the company your work for.
Hence, if you want to have plenty of responsibility right from the beginning and really want to develop yourself further, becoming a financial controller can also be great in this regard.
Controllers often have regular working hours
Financial controllers often also have regular working hours. In many companies, controllers just work regular 9 to 5 weeks from Monday to Friday, at least if they don’t have leading positions inside their companies.
This means that you will not be forced to work too much as a financial controller and that the levels of stress you will experience during your career will be rather limited.
In turn, this also implies a higher quality of life since you will often come home relaxed and will have enough energy left to spend a beautiful evening with your family.
Good work-life balance
Due to the regular working hours, you will also have a good work-life balance. Most often, you will have free evenings and will be able to meet up with your friends. You will also have free weekends and can make nice trips with your family. You will also be able to celebrate your kids’ birthdays with them and can take some time off when you need it.
Many companies even offer a sabbatical to their employees. This means that you can often take a full year off work and travel the world if you want to.
Consequently, as a financial controller, you will have plenty of opportunities to make your life as nice as possible and you will not have to live to work, but you can work to live 😉.
You can work inside
Another advantage of becoming a controller is that you can work inside. You may take this for granted at first since you might be used to the fact that many of your friends might work in office jobs inside as well. However, you should never take this for granted. Many people still have to work outside under extreme conditions since they are often exposed to heavy rain and even snow.
For instance, a construction worker who has to build a home will often work in the cold. There are many other occupations in which working outdoors is quite common and you as a financial controller will have the luxury to stay inside in a warm and cozy environment.
Financial controllers often get into leading positions
If you do good work and stay in your company long enough, your chances will be pretty good to get into senior management or even become a board member of your company. In fact, the longer you are in a company, the more likely it gets to become promoted as a financial controller.
Just make sure that you build good contacts inside your company since promotions are not made due to good performance at work, but the chance to get promoted also greatly depends on the people you know in your firm.
You can work for many different companies
As a financial controller, you will also be able to work for many different companies. Every company needs financial controllers and therefore, your job options will be almost unlimited. You can either work for a rather small family business or a big multinational corporation.
You can also try out both options and decide for yourself which company type fits better with your individual preferences. Also if you no longer like to work for company A, you can just switch to a job in company B where you find better working conditions.
Thus, as a financial controller, you will have many different options regarding the field and the company you want to work for.
You can also work in different countries as a financial controller
If you are a financial controller, you can also work in many different countries. In fact, many big companies use quite similar IT-infrastructure and other similar processes throughout the world and in many companies, the business language is just English, independent of whether the company is located in the US or not.
Hence, if you are really good at what you are doing, many doors will open for you and you can also work in many different countries during your career as a controller.
Consequently, becoming a financial controller can also be great in case you don’t know whether you want to stay in your home country or live in another country instead.
Financial controllers can build a strong business network
Since you will have contact with many different departments as a financial controller, you will also be able to build a pretty strong business network. Business networks are crucial for promotions inside a firm since only if the leading figures inside your company know you, you will have a realistic chance to get promoted into leading positions as well.
Moreover, strong business networks can also be crucial in your whole industry. Many people you get to know during your career in your company will work for other companies sooner or later and if you are friends with these people, chances are that you will have a pretty easy time changing companies and working for someone else in the future as well.
You can teach and mentor your younger colleagues
Once you become more experienced, you will also get the chance to mentor your younger colleagues and to show them how they can be successful as a financial controller.
In fact, many companies offer those mentoring programs since they know how important advice from more senior colleagues can be for the younger generation.
Hence, a career as a financial controller can also be great for you if you like to teach the younger generation and to help them figuring out their strengths.
Disadvantages of Being a Financial Controller
- Financial controllers need a college degree
- Student loan debt is quite common
- Many years of education required
- Not easy to get a job as financial controller
- Not suitable if you don’t like working with numbers
- Financial controlling can be stressful
- You have to work in an office job
- Unclear long-term job situation
- You have a certain daily routine
- Job as financial controller may become boring in the long run
- Mental problems are rather common
Financial controllers need a college degree
Apart from the many important benefits of becoming a financial controller, there are still some issues related to this occupation. For instance, one disadvantage of being a financial controller is that you will need a college degree. Quite often, companies even want to employ candidates who hold a Master’s degree for controlling positions.
Consequently, before deciding for becoming a financial controller, make sure that you are willing to go to college and to make the commitments that come along with it.
Student loan debt is quite common
Many financial controllers also have to pay off high amounts of student loans once they finish college and start working. In fact, student loan debt has become quite popular among students since they just make your life in college much easier. You do no longer have to worry about financial problems related to your tuition payments or other expenses you might have.
You can just get a student loan and your financial issues seem to be resolved. However, please note that this is just a short-term solution. You will have to pay the piper sooner or later and have to pay back enormous amounts of debt plus interest.
In fact, it takes many years for the average college graduate to pay back student loan debt and even though you might earn decent amounts of money as a financial controller, you should keep this in mind before deciding for such a career that involves going into significant debt quite often.
Many years of education required
Since many companies require a Master’s degree for employing you as a financial controller, be prepared that you will have to work quite a lot for your education.
It will often take you 5 years or more full-time for getting a suitable Master’s degree and even then, you will have to deal with plenty of competition in the local job market.
Not easy to get a job as financial controller
In fact, many people want to become financial controllers due to all the benefits that are waiting for them. However, this also means that it will be hard for everyone of you to get one of those positions. Thus, even if you get your Master’s degree with good grades, this will not be a guarantee that you can get a good job afterward.
In fact, many college graduates work in jobs that are not related to their major. It can also happen that you will not get into financial controlling right after college but that you have to work for a few years in a different field before you finally get this opportunity.
Not suitable if you don’t like working with numbers
Whether the job as a financial controller will be suitable for you or not also greatly depends on your individual preferences and on the skill set you bring to the table. If you have strong analytical abilities and also like to work with numbers, chances are that you will feel comfortable in this field.
However, if you have none of this and are also not willing to work hard to improve yourself, chances are that you will be better off with a different job.
Financial controlling can be stressful
Another problem with being a financial controller is that this career path can simply be quite stressful. Especially if you want to have a leading role in the company you work for, you will experience plenty of pressure since you will have to work with many different departments and the leading figures of the other departments will often not be happy with your decisions at all.
Thus, be prepared that you will be exposed to significant pressure as a financial controller and that you have a stable mindset to deal with all this in an emotionally healthy manner.
You have to work in an office job
As a financial controller, you will also have to work in a classical office job. While some people like this workstyle, others really don’t want to sit in an office in front of a computer all day long.
In fact, we as humans have evolved quite differently over many thousands of years and sitting people in front of a screen for many hours a day can simply not be considered as healthy from an evolutionary perspective.
Hence, also if you don’t like working in a classical office job, a career as a financial controller will not be the right way to go for you.
Unclear long-term job situation
Due to our technological progress and the automation efforts that come along with it, it is rather unclear how good or bad the job situation for financial controllers will be in the future.
In fact, chances are that machines will carry out a significant part of the work that is currently still done by humans and this also implies that many jobs in financial controlling will be lost.
Consequently, also the job security in this field seems to be rather questionable.
You have a certain daily routine
As a financial controller, your workday will also be pretty standardized. In fact, especially in big corporations, you will not have that much freedom regarding how and when you want to do your work.
You will have a rather standardized procedure which you have to follow and the room for your own ideas and preferences will often be rather limited.
Job as financial controller may become boring in the long run
Due to the standardized work and the lack of creativity that comes along with this job, many financial controllers also get bored with their jobs sooner or later.
Some controllers even quit and search for different job opportunities after a few years since they just don’t feel like they do what they want to do with their lives.
Mental problems are rather common
Since you will sit in front of a computer screen most of the time and you will also experience significant pressure from different departments on a regular basis, chances are that you will also suffer from mental problems sooner or later, especially if you don’t have a stable mindset to deal with those issues in an emotionally healthy manner.
Top 10 Financial Controller Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Financial Controller Pros||Being a Financial Controller Cons|
|Financial controllers can earn good money||Being a controller can be stressful|
|Good work-life balance of controllers||You need a college degree|
|You can work with senior management||Student debt is a problem|
|Controllers can work in many fields||Competitive work environment|
|You can work for many different firms||Not everyone gets into financial controlling|
|You can also work abroad||Daily routine can become boring|
|Financial controllers can work inside||You need a certain talent for numbers|
|You can work with numbers||You work in an office job|
|Controllers can build a strong network||Mental problems|
|Regular working hours||Lack of exercise|
Should You Become a Financial Controller?
After showing you all the advantages and disadvantages of being a financial controller, you can now better decide whether you still want to go for this career path or if you want to go for other job options instead.
Opportunities are almost endless and you should take your time to figure out which job really fits your individual preferences before making this important decision that could heavily affect the level of happiness in your life.
Also make sure to check out the following articles:
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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