A controller is a vital member of any successful business. They’re in charge of the accounting department, overseeing bookkeeping staff, managing accounts receivable, and much more. The work of a controller is crucial in enabling business leaders to make decisions with clarity.

Unfortunately, many Small to Midsize Businesses (SMBs) lack the resources to employ their own controller on a full-time basis. Controllers tend to be qualified CPAs, making them in-demand professionals with plenty of career opportunities. To attract one to work at your company, you need to build a sophisticated financial infrastructure: an activity that can be challenging for business leaders focused on day-to-day operations. 

However, the fact that your business lacks the resources to employ a controller on a full-time basis doesn’t exclude you from experiencing the benefits that working with a controller can bring. Hiring an outsourced controller, often as part of a wider outsourced accounting team, offers businesses access to proven accounting and finance talent at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house. 

If you haven’t considered this approach before, it’s natural to have some questions. What is an outsourced controller, and what kinds of financial tasks can you delegate to them? Today, we’ll unpack those issues and more, helping you understand the value that hiring an outsourced controller can bring to your business. 

What is an Outsourced Controller?

Controllers are accounting and finance professionals that are charged with managing a business’ accounting department. They often oversee teams of bookkeepers and regular accountants and typically report directly to the organization’s CFO. 

Smaller organizations that lack a well-developed accounting and finance department often transfer the work of a controller to an outsourced controller service. These services, typically run by established CPA firms, provide all of the same services an in-house controller would––typically at a fraction of the cost. 

Outsourced Controller Responsibilities

In general, the controller oversees the entire accounting process of your business: from managing bookkeepers to helping leaders interpret complex financial statements. Depending on the needs of your business, there are a wide variety of tasks that can be outsourced to an external controller. 

No two outsourced controller relationships are exactly the same. But there are certain tasks that businesses often outsource to a client accounting services firm. Here is a list of responsibilities that companies often delegate to an outsourced controller:

  • Implementing and maintaining digital accounting systems
  • Partner with tax accountants to prepare tax filings
  • Track performance against budgets and forecasts
  • Establish and monitor internal financial controls
  • Manage bookkeeping and junior accounting staff
  • Oversee month-end close process and create financial statements

The nature of the tasks that an outsourced controller is responsible for can vary according to several factors, including the industry your business operates in, the size of your business, and the regulations your business must comply with. 

This variability of the role makes it important for businesses to partner with an outsourced accounting service provider that has the capacity and skills to handle a wide range of finance and accounting tasks. Prioritize outsourced controller services that offer a flexible approach with services tailored to the unique needs of your business.

Why Do Businesses Work with an Outsourced Controller?

Working with an outsourced controller is a great fit for all kinds of businesses, but it’s a particularly good match for closely-held entrepreneurial businesses and mid-market firms. At these stages, your business has likely outgrown the services of a simple bookkeeper but might not have quite enough going on to justify hiring a full-time accounting team and controller. 

The decision to hire an outsourced controller can also stem from a more acute need. Some of the most common reasons that business leaders choose to hire an outsourced controller include:

  • Limited Finance Budget: business leaders often realize they need to expand their finance team but lack the resources to bring on W-2 employees. An outsourced controller provides similar output, often at a fraction of the cost of recruiting, training, and paying an in-house accounting team.  
  • Business Expansion: when your business is going through a growth period, it’s an exciting time. But there’s no doubt it’s also important to closely monitor your financial performance to track your investments and ensure your growth is sustainable. 
  • Investment: business owners often seek new capital, either through equity or debt, in order to fuel future initiatives. To do that, your business needs to satisfy certain due diligence requirements. This is challenging enough but becomes a near-impossible task if your financial records are disorganized. 
  • Declining Financial Performance: perhaps your profits have dipped or your business is beginning to experience cash flow issues. An outsourced controller helps you dig deeper to understand and address the reasons for your business’s financial underperformance. 

Of course, there are all kinds of additional reasons that a business might consider partnering with an outsourced controller. It could be that your Chief Financial Officer needs some additional support or that your existing accounting staff needs experienced leadership.

Whatever the case, a partnership with the right outsourced controller can act as an accelerant for your business, helping you unlock game-changing financial insights and identify growth opportunities that can take your business to the next level.

LBMC: Full Service Outsourced Accounting Firm in Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana

For many businesses, hiring an outsourced controller can have a transformative impact. The assurance that your financial records will be precise and routinely updated affords leaders better visibility into the performance of their business. That boosts productivity, streamlines decision-making, and gives your business the insights it needs to operate more efficiently. 

At LBMC, we’re proud to support the needs of entrepreneurial businesses with a full spectrum of outsourced accounting services, including outsourced bookkeeping, outsourced controller services, and even strategic fractional CFO engagements. 

Each of our services are closely integrated to ensure business owners have every resource they need to be successful. Our clients benefit from a proven approach to accounting that leverages industry best practices and sophisticated technology to deliver unparalleled financial clarity. 

To learn more about LBMC’s outsourced controller services, contact an advisor today.