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What is a participation controller?
Investment controllers are the all-rounders par excellence, as they accompany the entire life cycle of an acquisition: always with the overriding goal in mind of increasing the capital employed and, if necessary, selling it again in the medium to long term.
The range of tasks of investment controllers is varied and demanding, which is mainly due to the different phases of a company acquisition: From the preparatory planning and the integration of the new area to the use of possible synergies and the development of further sales scenarios, they are involved in the entire process.
Investment controllers support and advise their contact persons on how the individual goals of the subsidiary or the investment can be achieved. In addition, they keep an eye on the overall group goal with the help of their own evaluations and the tools available to them.
Strategic controllers in larger companies
Investment controllers are typically found in companies that have subsidiaries at several locations or hold shares in other companies, both nationally and internationally.
Investment controlling is part of the strategic part of controlling and can therefore be clearly distinguished from group controlling. This area primarily reports to the CFO, although it is often said that it should better report to the CEO due to greater independence. This linear reporting directly to the Executive Board would have the advantage of letting the investment controllers act more in an advisory capacity and giving them more opportunities to act as mediators across all specialist departments and subsidiaries. They would be business and sparring partners for the management of the various holdings, who also monitor the group’s goals.
Depending on the organizational structure, investment controllers are part of a staff unit or assigned to the entire controlling team. Science tends to advise running it as a staff position.
Why investment controlling is becoming increasingly important
It can be expected that corporate controllers will become more and more important in medium-sized to large companies. It is true that there have always been phases of consolidation in various sectors; However, in times of ever shorter product cycles, the pressure on innovations and investments has increased sharply, and strategic company acquisitions (not only from start-ups) have been making the headlines for years.
The role of investment controllers as integrators or companions of acquisitions with regard to digitization, standardization and automation will also become increasingly central. Knowledge of business intelligence or a fundamentally good technical understanding are therefore a clear competitive advantage for applicants looking for a position in this field.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: Successfully completed business studies, ideally with a focus on controlling and finance or accounting and auditing. Alternatively: commercial training with subject-specific further training in the field of controlling
- Starting salary: €63,000
- Top salary: €145,750
- Opportunities for advancement: Controlling team leader
What does a participation controller do?
- central contact for several, mostly international subsidiaries
- Supervision of the locations in all business issues
- Independent control of the budget and forecast processes
- Support and/or independent preparation of individual financial statements and group reporting for the consolidated financial statements
- Financial analysis of KPIs such as P&L, balance sheet, cash flow
- Support for special projects such as investment decisions, integration of new companies, preparation of company sales, etc.
- Link between the local management of the subsidiaries and the group management
- Project management: Optimization or standardization of processes, methods and systems
How does one become a participation controller?
- Successfully completed business studies, ideally with a focus on controlling and finance or accounting and auditing
- alternatively: successfully completed commercial training and further training in controlling (IHK or similar)
- Practical experience in controlling or auditing, ideally with an international focus
- Basic knowledge of accounting, additional knowledge of international standards is ideal
- Experience in dealing with presentation tools as well as ERP and/or BI tools
- Fluent English, other foreign languages are an advantage
- MS Office skills, in particular very good MS Excel skills
What does a participation controller earn?
up to €100,000
The salary range for investment controllers is almost as broad as their possible uses: Annual salaries between around €63,000 and €100,000 are possible. In addition to personal qualifications and professional experience, the salary level is also influenced by individual negotiation skills and the current labor market conditions. As in every area, further training and specializations can pay off financially, especially for investment controllers. In this position, experience in the field of digitization is a catalyst for salary and other benefits.
What do you expect from the participation controller?
Investment controllers, like all controllers, are analytical and have an affinity for numbers. But persuasiveness and communication skills as well as empathy are also essential for this role. This is the only way that corporate controllers can be accepted as business partners by local management – both as “supporters” and as “drivers” for overarching group guidelines and goals.
Willingness to travel and very good language skills (primarily English, but other foreign languages are definitely an advantage) should be available for possible on-site appointments.
A high degree of personal responsibility and reliability as well as an independent way of working complete the profile. In the meantime, IT knowledge in the field of business intelligence and programming experience are also welcome in the requirement profile.
Opportunities for advancement as a participation controller
A step up the career ladder for a participation controller can be a management function in controlling in a larger company. In a rather small, growing company, on the other hand, the team leader role would be a goal.
Depending on the company structure, staff positions are not the rule, but they are possible options. It is therefore conceivable that tasks could be expanded in the area of the CEO or, in a more traditional organization, in the area of the CFO.
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