For most of the people, it is pretty clear that the role of a bookkeeper is quite different from that of a controller or a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). It may not be as clear where the CFO and the controller are, in terms of their responsibilities, and with many smaller companies these roles are often integrated. To a large extent, the owner of a small business is often performing these roles without even realising that they are doing it.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO):
A CFO’s role in the company is working backwards. He is the one who sees the vision of the company in financial terms. He should be constantly contemplating about building the net worth of the business. A CFO usually sets an end in sight, establishes intermediate goals and lay out yardsticks by which he or she wants the company to perform. He or she works in close collaboration with the CEO. A CFO is a strategic level officer in the company, who makes decisions regarding goals, key performance indicators, investments, reporting etc.
Finance Controller (FC):
A finance controller works under the supervision of a CFO and is generally responsible for ensuring the quality of bookkeeping and financial reporting of an entity. Some other job responsibilities of a finance controller include supervising the internal auditors, collaborations with other departments, overseeing internal controls and monitoring their compliance etc. In a company, a finance controller is a tactical level officer.
Last but not the least, a bookkeeper is an operational level officer, who is responsible for recording accounting transactions on daily basis. He or she may also have a role in maintaining both the accounts payable and receivable. He or she creates purchase orders and invoices, posts them through to the general ledger and applies payments to vendor invoices. The bookkeeper creates sales orders and sales invoices, post these to the general ledger and applies cash receipts. Depending on the size of a company, a bookkeeper also has a role in paying bills, balancing bank statements in taking deposits or posting cash receipts from customers.
Not all companies need these three roles in their finance departments. The best criteria for determining whether you need a CFO, FC or merely a bookkeeper depends on the size and objectives of a company. Large conglomerate and multinational companies definitely need all the three roles to manage their finances. However, small or medium sized entities may just want one or two of these positions. Just assess the current state of your company and determine your needs. It is possible that you may be paying a CFO level salary for the job of a bookkeeper or also that you are in dire need of a CFO but cannot afford one.
Luckily, there are many firms providing accounting services in Singapore who can fill all these roles with their professional competencies.