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).

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