Your company is rapidly growing, your bookkeeper is stressed, or you are running into new and unusual transactions (new territories or products, acquiring a business, etc.).  It may be time to bring in higher-level accounting and finance help. However, you may not be ready to invest in hiring a full-time Controller.

Virtual/Fractional and Interim Controller

What is a Controller? A Controller is a seasoned accounting professional that can oversee the financial statement close process, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, etc. A Controller does not have ‘hands on’ responsibilities for any of these areas but, instead, ensures the accuracy and timeliness of the financial close through oversight and review.  Also, a Controller is not the same as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who understands these items but is also well versed in corporate risks, strategy planning and forecasting, capital structure, etc.

So, you need a Controller (or possibly a CFO).  What are the options besides hiring one full time?  There are a few options that have emerged as viable options:

  • Virtual/Fractional Controller – this is a shared, contracted resource model where many smaller companies use a single resource to provide services.  The benefit: you get access to an experienced resource that many small companies couldn’t afford to bring in-house by themselves.  While fractional controllers used to be more of an on-site resource, there is a strong trend towards a virtual Controller model where Controller services are provided remotely.
  • Interim Controller – this is an in-house shared resource that provides full-time Controller services onsite. As the name implies, this is for a finite period and is most useful in periods of transition like rapid growth, large transactions, or employee turnover.  Additionally, if you have a Controller who, for whatever reason, terminates their employment, an interim Controller can step in to fill the gap.

There is no ‘bright-line’ test for when to bring in a Controller; it depends on your company and situation.  However, if you are feeling uncomfortable with your current accounting situation, it is most likely time to reach out to a qualified resource.


About the Author(s)

 Gordon  Keffer

Gordon L Keffer is the owner and founder of G Cubed Financial, LLC. Gordon is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Delaware, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a focus in Finance and Economics. He immediately passed his CPA exam upon graduation and was employed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers and Lybrand). After leaving, Gordon worked in corporate accounting for both...

CPA, G Cubed Financial
When is the Right Time to Hire a Controller?