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Handling conflict in the financial controller role

The role of financial controller (FC) can be a challenging one, often involving disagreements with others in the business over financial reporting demands and practices. Below Catherine Bailey explains how to resolve such conflicts.

The work of the financial controller (FC) routinely brings them into conflict with the business they support. While the current business pressure for growth and reduction of financial risk may have heightened the likelihood and potential intensity of such conflict, there have always been endemic conflicts from a financial control perspective.

FCs will probably recognise such sources of conflict as:

  • shortcutting reporting – eg, operational managers can be more focused on ‘getting the job done’ and less focused on servicing ‘the bureaucracy’, as they might see it, in simple procedures such as timely completion of purchase orders;
  • failure to appreciate the purposes of financial control – eg some managers may over- or under-report income or costs, happily ignorant of the problems that creates for business; and
  • disagreements about what counts as good practice – for instance when senior managers use their ‘market experience’ to justify income predictions that they cannot substantiate with evidence, leaving unaddressed the risk they build into cash flow management.

The embedded organisational issues

This is an extract from the Finance & Management Magazine, Issue 194, December 2011.

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