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What is a corporate controller?
Corporate controllers work in corporations that have several subsidiaries. Depending on the number of holdings, they manage all or some of them as a staff unit.
You will report directly to the Head of Investment Controlling and are a business partner of the Executive Board or management, especially the CFO. Whatever question he has or whatever scenario he would like to think through: it is the job of the corporate controller to provide him with an answer.
Corporate controllers view the company holistically. They not only check individual departments or products, but also analyze higher-level procedures and processes or entire company divisions and holdings. With the help of a wide variety of controlling methods, they generate information that affects the entire group and serves as a basis for decision-making for the management or the executive board.
In addition to numerous professional skills, distinctive intercultural skills are among the characteristics of the corporate controller. Because working with other cultures not only makes the job varied, but also presents the corporate controller with new challenges every day. It is important to establish a personal relationship with the individual contact persons in the various subsidiaries in order to ensure trust and respect – as the basis for a productive and successful cooperation.
Corporate controllers and digitization
Like all controllers, corporate controllers are among the biggest beneficiaries of digitization. Because the mass of digitally available data not only has to be controlled and analyzed in general; Rather, it is about generating meaningful evaluations from the existing data.
Against this background, the importance of the corporate controller will continue to increase. On the one hand, it can be assumed that both the quantity and the quality of the data will continue to increase in the future. On the other hand, looking ahead (predictive analytics) is becoming increasingly important in order to be successful in the market and to assert oneself against global competitors.
In addition, digitalization has made it significantly easier for corporate controllers in particular to carry out their work. The increasing use of digital systems has often made processes more efficient and easier. Exactly how simple these processes have become depends on whether foreign companies and the parent company use a uniform ERP system or not.
Outlook: Development of the job description
Further important developments in the coming years are progressive globalization and regional structures. On the one hand, world trade will continue to change, which means that it can be assumed that German companies will set up more and more foreign companies. Since at the same time many foreign markets are growing faster than Germany, controlling the subsidiaries – and thus the position of the corporate controller – is becoming increasingly important.
Also against the background of globalization, industry experts assume that responsibilities will increasingly be divided according to regions – a trend that is already well underway in many corporations. Last but not least, more and more companies are striving to go public. And this development will also lead to more controllers being sought and their importance growing.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Degree in business administration or a comparable course
- Starting salary: €50,000
- Top salary: €120,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Head of Corporate Controlling, commercial manager, CFO
What does a corporate controller do?
- Commercial support for one or more subsidiaries
- Participation in the financial reporting of the subsidiaries for quarterly and monthly financial statements
- Consolidation of all reports (e.g. actual, forecast, budget, midterm plan)
- Coordination of internal/external accounting and all internal interfaces
- Creation of all standard formats and maintenance of the controlling group manual for the documentation of the controlling processes
- Analysis of key figures, presentation of results and scenario calculations for internal and external customers
- Derivation of recommendations for action to the management
- Administration and coordination of the planning process
How does one become a corporate controller?
Applicants must have several years of professional experience, which is why you don’t become a corporate controller immediately after graduation. As a rule, companies expect the following competencies from potential corporate controllers:
- Completed degree in business administration or a comparable course
- several years of professional experience in controlling or in an auditing company
- Knowledge of modern controlling instruments and controlling structures
- Good knowledge of relevant software solutions (e.g. SAP and MS Office)
- Business fluent German and English
What does a corporate controller earn?
Corporate controllers earn a gross annual salary of between € 50,000 and €70,000 on entry, which can increase to € 100,000 or a maximum of €120,000 with professional experience. The exact salary level is influenced by the company’s industry, as well as the size of the company and the number of subsidiaries. Of course, the specific area of responsibility and professional experience also play a role.
The need for corporate controllers is great, but many companies have difficulties finding good employees. The reason: corporate controllers not only have to cover content-related topics and have intercultural skills; the job also requires a lot of travel, which can amount to more than 50 percent of the working time, depending on the number of subsidiaries. As always, when demand outstrips supply, corporate controller pay levels are likely to continue to rise in the future.
What do you expect from the corporate controller?
Corporate controllers are very good at recognizing overall corporate relationships. It is easy for them to record and analyze processes. They not only have very good abstraction and comprehension skills, but also a pronounced analytical and solution-oriented way of thinking.
But corporate controllers don’t just have this rather »down-to-earth« side. In order to be able to control their contact persons in the subsidiaries and to be able to give recommendations for action to the board of directors or the management, corporate controllers must also have consulting competence and basic communication skills. They therefore combine many different skills and are therefore in great demand on the market.
Opportunities for advancement as corporate controller
Corporate controllers enjoy a high reputation in corporations because they are the point of contact at headquarters for all matters relating to the figures of the subsidiaries they control. From there you can develop to Head of Corporate Controlling. However, since there are only relatively few managerial positions, corporate controllers often take on the position of commercial director or CFO of a foreign company. Alternatively, corporate controllers can also move internally to other areas.
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