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The developing role of the financial controller: evidence from the UK

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  • Alan Graham
  • Susan Davey-Evans
  • Ian Toon
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    Abstract

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study the work roles undertaken by financial controllers. The literature suggests a recent transformation, with the role of the finance professional making a significant shift from “score-keeper” to a “value-added” business partner. The paper suggests that the role has undergone a more complex change and combines elements from both of these descriptions. Design/methodology/approach – The methodological approach starts by analysing job specifications of financial controller vacancies. Using survey data, it then establishes what tasks they now do. Finally, it uses interviews to understand whether financial controllers believe that they could add more value to the organisation and if any barriers exist preventing the transformation of the role. Findings – The findings suggest that the role of financial controller has not transformed in recent years, but has instead enlarged, incorporating more “forward-looking” elements, which are concerned with the management of the whole business. These developments have not replaced the “traditional” tasks such as reporting and control, but are supplementary to them. The research also indicates that financial controllers believe that the role should be expanded and that they could add more value, but are constrained by external pressures. Research limitations/implications – The authors acknowledge that this paper does not consider the contingent factors which shape the individual role within different types and sizes of business, but nevertheless it discusses many of the characteristics associated with the complex role. Originality/value – This paper has implications for finance and accounting managers working in business, the accounting bodies and those involved in accounting education.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Journal of Applied Accounting Research.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 71-88

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:jaarpp:v:13:y:2012:i:1:p:71-88

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    Web page: http://www.emeraldinsight.com

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    Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
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    Web: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/jaar.htm

    Related research

    Keywords: Finance managers; Financial control; Financial controllers; Management accounting; United Kingdom;

    References

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    1. Andrew L. Friedman & Stephen R. Lyne, 1997. "Activity-based techniques and the death of the beancounter," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 19-44, May.
    2. Bertrand Masquefa, 2008. "Top management adoption of a locally driven performance measurement and evaluation system: A social network perspective," Post-Print halshs-00282391, HAL.
    3. Hopper, Trevor M., 1980. "Role conflicts of management accountants and their position within organisation structures," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 401-411, October.
    4. Robert Scapens & Mostafa Jazayeri, 2003. "ERP systems and management accounting change: opportunities or impacts? A research note," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 201-233.
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