May 21, 2024


Built Business Tough

Good Controller/Bad Controller – CFO

Back again in 2012, Ben Horowitz published an post titled “Fantastic Products Manager/ Undesirable Products Manager.” We borrowed from his format as we assessed a critical part in a quickly-rising company’s finance organization: the controller. (See our former column, Fantastic CFO/Undesirable CFO.) Distinctive thanks to Aman KothariDarko Socanski, and the Bessemer Venture Companions CFO Advisory Board for their contributions.

Getting the proper company controller for the scale and stage of development for your organization is significant. If your company is a little, quickly-rising organization, a “big company” controller could be unable or unwilling to roll up their sleeves to lean in and assistance handle your most crucial difficulties. If your organization is much more mature, an outstanding, hands-on little company controller could have problems creating a sturdy workforce and contemplating and acting strategically.

The “goldilocks” controller has the proper combine of competencies and pursuits for your latest worries with the ability to scale the company in the short-to-medium term. As an organization scales it isn’t uncommon for the controller to either be upgraded or for a main accounting officer to be employed about them to assistance bridge gaps.

Adam C. Spiegel

Whether or not you will need a much more nimble, hands-on controller or a significant-image, strategic controller, listed here are some popular attributes to look at in the selection and analysis system.

A excellent controller can develop and lead a sturdy accounting workforce. He or she hires the proper folks for the part and for the workforce and company lifestyle. A undesirable controller is challenged on this front — he or she mis-hires and winds up carrying out all of the work themselves, then complains about it to every person who will hear.

A excellent controller organizes for achievement. He or she designs their organization in a way that optimally supports the small business now and that can be adaptable to fulfill switching short-to-medium term wants. A undesirable controller hires bodies to “get the occupation done” and doesn’t have time to believe about what will come future.

A excellent controller makes use of their innate understanding of each and every workforce member’s aspirations and constraints to get the ideal out of them. A undesirable controller cannot tell the variance between excellent talent and undesirable talent. He or she is worried to update the workforce because of the further work they’ll will need to do all through the transition period.

A excellent controller sets apparent expectations with the workforce and follows up. He or she sets ambitions for themselves and their workforce centered on continuous system advancement. He or she asks loads of open-ended issues and learns from the answers. A undesirable controller does factors the way the previous controller did them without at any time inquiring why. Undesirable controllers have no will need to check with issues as they previously know all of the answers.

At a scaled-down company, a excellent controller enjoys staying hands-on and is happy with that as an ongoing portion of their occupation, comfortably operating each as a preparer and a reviewer. A undesirable controller in this dimension company resents getting to do the element work themselves and doesn’t hassle to evaluation the work of subordinates.

Jeff Epstein

A excellent controller “owns it.” He or she is inclined to do no matter what it can take to get the occupation carried out and will work shoulder to shoulder with the workforce all through all those long close or pre-audit evenings. The undesirable controller punches out right after their eight hours no matter of what is heading on in the place of work, leaving the workforce behind to fend for themselves.

A excellent controller is quick to distribute the credit rating and slow to distribute the blame. He or she can take delight in the team’s successes and owns their failures. The identical miscalculation doesn’t transpire all over again because it results in being a educating moment and a lesson is discovered. A undesirable controller can take credit rating for others’ successes and blames many others when factors go improper. There is no educating and the identical errors transpire about and about all over again.

A excellent controller is tremendous service-oriented and assures that the finance workforce delivers outstanding service to its consumers (the rest of the organization). A undesirable controller doesn’t believe that finance has any consumers and ignores the wants of the other departments.

A excellent controller communicates perfectly, each within finance and to the broader organization, realizing that he or she is portion of a collective workforce that only succeeds alongside one another. A undesirable controller operates in a silo and doesn’t persuade collaboration.

A excellent controller understands processes, systems, and their fundamental information and will work closely with engineering and IT associates to get the ideal out of their know-how resources. A undesirable controller doesn’t put into practice systems jobs because he or she cannot discover the time. Undesirable controllers maintain up the migration from QuickBooks because they like the adaptability to be capable to go back to edit closed intervals.

A excellent controller generates correct fiscal statements on a predictable schedule and has a approach to make improvements to on their timeliness and comprehensiveness. He or she understands that receiving to a faster month-to-month close suggests that the workforce will have much more time each and every thirty day period for system advancement, building the future month-to-month close even far better. In a greater personal company, the excellent controller has a approach to reduce month-to-month close to a general public company timeframe whilst also keeping the sanity of the workforce. The undesirable controller makes use of the overall thirty day period (or much more) to close the publications, leaving no time for system advancement and leaving the workforce perpetually in a condition of exhaustion and pressure.

A excellent controller inherently understands and is fluent in the the greater part of the operational and technical accounting principles relevant to the small business. At a scaled-down company, the controller may not have the identical depth of technical accounting knowledge but he or she will nevertheless be fluent in the critical principles so as to know when to check with further issues or flag difficulties. The undesirable controller assumes that the auditors will determine out all of the technical accounting difficulties in the audit so he or she minimizes their exertion expended on investigating them.

A excellent controller builds a sturdy and constructive operating marriage with the audit spouse and is unafraid to engage in truthful and open dialog around significant internal difficulties. Good controllers talk often and share the popular aim of “getting factors right” and averting surprises. The undesirable controller dreads each and every dialogue with the audit spouse out of fear that his or her incompetence will be exposed.

A excellent controller is ethically and morally grounded and is unafraid to problem and engage with many others at all stages of the organization in conversations about moral difficulties. A undesirable controller life in fear for their occupation and hence will hide from complicated difficulties.

A excellent controller jobs gravitas and can spouse perfectly with executives and many others across the organization. A undesirable controller is not comfortable when interacting with many others and it shows.

A excellent controller seeks out mentorship and direction and is centered on self-advancement. A undesirable controller just “does their job” as he or she doesn’t have the bandwidth to do any much more.

Adam Spiegel served as CFO for a sequence of general public and personal superior development know-how corporations including RPX and Glassdoor. Previously he expended about a ten years as an expense banker for the Credit history Suisse First Boston Know-how Team and Prudential Securities, completing transactions valued at about $eight billion. He now mentors CFOs and advises other executives of superior development know-how corporations.

Jeff Epstein is an running spouse at Bessemer Venture Companions and a lecturer at Stanford University. He specializes in marketplaces and small business-to-small business computer software corporations. He serves on the boards of administrators and audit committees of Kaiser Permanente, Twilio, Shutterstock, and a number of personal corporations.

Bessemer Venture Companions, contributor, controller, Glassdoor