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

Alan Graham, Susan Davey-Evans, Ian Toon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper is a study of 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. 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 they could add more value to the organisation and if any barriers exist preventing the transformation of the role. 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 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 the role should be expanded and that they could add more value, but are constrained by external pressures. 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. This paper has implications for finance and accounting managers working in business, the accounting bodies and those involved in accounting education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-88
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Applied Accounting Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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