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Rising demand for controllers: the expectations of the function are differing

31/03/2023 – In a time of growing financial uncertainty, controllers are more in demand than ever. In the past twelve months, the number of vacancies in controlling increased by 24 % compared to the same period last year. But how can companies attract and retain controllers?

Alexander Görtz, Managing Consultant Finance at Robert Walters, provides valuable insights and tips on how to do that, as employers can lose time and money if they misunderstand the role of a controller.

Importance of controllers to cover risks

The Corona pandemic revealed to a large number of companies that they were not sufficiently aware of their financial data and the potential risks associated with it. A more efficient use of existing data as well as the optimisation of existing processes are now the focus of management. Görtz explains:

There was already a significant need for action in terms of monitoring information and streamlining processes, but this trend has been accelerated by Covid-19.

Good risk coverage makes your business more agile, which proved essential during the pandemic.


Continued demand for controllers

Companies have recognised the need to better manage financial uncertainties and increased costs. This has led to an increased demand of 24 % for controllers, mainly with a business background and specific training or relevant work experience in controlling. A total of 22.110 controller positions were advertised in 8.525 companies in the last twelve months (as of March 2023).

Qualifications in demand for controllers

Companies are primarily looking for business controllers and financial controllers who are able to take on corporate controlling tasks. Indeed, companies increasingly need controllers who can not only analyse figures but also interpret them and make targeted recommendations for the company's management. In this way, controllers can actively support the company in hedging against future risks.

Görtz knows from his experience: ,Especially in larger companies and corporations, there are often controlling departments that are looking for specialists. The qualifications in demand include knowledge in the areas of finance, accounting, cost accounting, forecasting, reporting, analysis, and planning. In addition, skills in using controlling software and tools are also expected.’

Lack of clarity due to diverse areas of responsibility

Similarly, companies have difficulties attracting and retaining controllers. This is not only due to the omnipresent scarcity of the labour market, Görtz notes: ,HR managers often say they are looking for a controller, but do not always know exactly what the person should bring to the company's current context. This can result in unexpected tasks and responsibilities for the hired controller. It depends, among other things, on where a company currently stands in terms of processes and data. This has a big influence on the requirements for candidates as well as the day-to-day work and scope of the controller position.’

Consequences of miscommunication about the areas of responsibility

Also, the expectations of candidates in controlling are not always clearly defined. This miscommunication can lead to companies investing in controllers who leave the company again after a few months because the job content develops differently than expected. ,Financial controllers no longer focus only on the numbers. Today, they are also expected to take on an advisory role in the organisation. But by no means everyone is aware of this expansion of their duties, which can lead to confusion between the company and the applicant about the exact content of the job’, explains Görtz.

Retain controllers in the long term 

Controllers are in demand, and they know it. They are critical and can be demanding in terms of salary and working conditions. Görtz: ,I try to find out as much as possible with the HR managers what exactly they expect from a controller, which makes it easier to find the right candidate. The challenge is that the term 'controller' can be interpreted in many ways and therefore filled out in many ways by applicants.’

Görtz recommends that companies define exactly which tasks the controller they are looking for should take on: ,Internal interviews and detailed research on expectations, increase the chance of a match and therefore the chance of success that the new employee will stay with you.’

Looking for a controller to strengthen your team?

Contact one of our consultants or upload your controller job posting today.
Are you looking for a new job in the field of controlling? Take a look at our current vacancies for controllers.


Index Anzeigendaten, period considered: March 2021-2022 vs. March 2022-2023.

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Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants

Alexander Görtz

Managing Consultant Finance | Düsseldorf
Phone:  +49 211 30 180 046

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