The distinction between a CFO and a Financial Controller

July 18, 2013 Stuart Bilbrough

This is a discussion that comes up regularly in Finance related LinkedIn groups and with a wide range of responses. But is it really that unclear?

In Chapter 1 of the book Bean Soup – Beyond Bean Counting ( it says that although you would expect the differences to be apparent, and they are, many organisations misunderstand the differences and have their Head of Finance role designated CFO while the key responsibilities are in fact those of a Financial Controller.

The problem occurs when Board members, the company’s bankers, external auditors and other external stakeholders have an expectation based on a correct understanding of the role and find that the position is misrepresented. This expectation gap can cause confusion and potential conflict.

One way around this rests with the Finance and Accounting Recruitment Company that assists their client with filling the position. They will be supplied a position description and from this will be able to clearly ascertain the most appropriate designation.

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