Is Your Business Ready for Fractional Controller Services?

Omar Visram
Is Your Business Ready for Fractional Controller Services?
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Ready for a fractional controller?
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As your business grows, leaving critical accounting department functions in the hands of unqualified, in-house personnel can lead to tax oversights, compliance issues, and poor financial planning.

A fractional controller’s role extends well beyond bookkeeping work. They provide expert strategic financial oversight. A bookkeeper is primarily responsible for recording and maintaining a company's day-to-day financial transactions. This role is more operational. However, many small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the budget to hire a controller full-time. Choosing between a fractional controller and a bookkeeper depends on the size of the business, the complexity of its financial operations, and its strategic needs.

Fortunately, you can get the skills and experience you need – when you need them – by hiring a fractional controller (also known as a part-time controller) on a part-time basis.

What does a fractional controller do?

As your business grows in size or complexity, a fractional controller (also known as a part time controller) can help you manage and leverage your financial information. Fractional controllers are responsible for:

  • Making sure you’re up to date with the CRA
  • Establishing and monitoring internal controls
  • Working with your year-end accountants to ensure your annual taxes and financial statements are completed accurately and on time
  • Preparing for audit reviews
  • Monitoring compliance with bank agreements
  • Assisting with budgeting, forecasting, and stakeholder reporting
  • Helping your business grow by evaluating the profitability of various service lines
  • Helping you assess new opportunities
  • Helping you with cash flow planning

Part-time or fractional controller accounting services let you adjust the mix of your finance or management team as your business needs change - at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time controller.

A fractional controller can meet your financial needs on a project or contract basis, as a stand-alone service, or as part of an outsourced account management package.

Fractional Controller vs. Bookkeeper vs. Fractional CFO

Fractional Controller vs. Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers are essential to every business. They concentrate on processing financial transactions and keeping accounting system entries and reconciliations up-to-date. This role is more operational and includes tasks such as:

  • Recording Transactions: Keeping up-to-date records of financial transactions, including purchases, sales, receipts, and payments.
  • Reconciling Accounts: Ensuring accuracy in accounts by reconciling entries into accounting software.
  • Managing Payroll: Administering payroll and ensuring all necessary documentation is accurate and timely.
  • Handling Receivables and Payables: Managing invoices, bills, and payments to ensure timely transaction processing.

Controllers focus on integrating business and finance functions. Fractional controllers help entrepreneurs drive their businesses forward while considering the financial implications of business decisions. Specifically, a controller will focus on the following functions:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis: Preparing and reviewing financial statements, analyzing financial data, and providing insights to help with strategic decision-making.
  • Internal Controls and Compliance: Establishing and monitoring internal controls to ensure accuracy and compliance with financial regulations.
  • Budgeting and Forecasting: Leading budget preparation and financial forecasting processes and working with management to align financial strategies with business objectives.
  • Cash Flow Management: Overseeing cash management strategies to optimize the company's financial health.
  • Tax Planning and Audit Management: Coordinating with external auditors and tax advisors to ensure proper reporting and compliance.

Fractional Controller vs. Fractional CFO

CFOs (chief financial officers) play an important role in accounting but tend to focus more on strategy and are less operationally involved than controllers.
You may need a fractional CFO once in a while for the depth of experience they bring to tactical projects. However, given the considerable overlap between the two roles, you often won't need a fractional CFO if your business has a strong fractional controller.

Get the skills and experience of a controller at a fraction of the price

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Is your business ready for outsourced controller services?

If your business earns between $500K and $10M in annual revenue, a fractional controller could provide valuable financial intelligence.

At $500K to $1M in revenue, a controller can assist with everything from complex bookkeeping transactions to preparing and interpreting financial reports. By the $10M mark, controller services become even more essential for establishing and maintaining closing processes and overseeing internal controls.

Because a fractional controller can help evaluate growth opportunities, even the smallest company can benefit—especially if it lacks a financial background.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re thinking about starting a new product line. A controller can help you assess:

  • What it will take financially for your business to make that investment
  • When you can expect to see a return, and
  • Whether you have enough cash available to get your new line off the ground

A controller can also help you get the financing you need. Having your numbers put together by an accounting professional instills confidence in lenders or investors that you’ve got your financial ducks in a row.  

The benefits of working with a fractional controller

There are many advantages to working with a part-time or fractional controller. To start, they’ll keep you onside with the CRA by ensuring your remittances are up-to-date and communicating on your behalf in the event of an inquiry.

Controller services can also help you with the following:

  • Make year-end a breeze. A fractional controller will support your accountants by answering their questions and doing the heavy lifting.
  • Make better business decisions. The more accurate your financials are—and the better you understand them—the easier it will be to make smart operational and investment decisions.
  • Make good on your debt covenants. A fractional controller can anticipate and communicate in advance when things aren’t going to go according to plan. That means a lot to investors and lenders, who will often be willing to make exceptions.  

One lesser-known benefit of working with a fractional controller is their capacity to attend virtual board meetings. While you concentrate on communicating your vision and plan, they handle the accounting and financial pieces.

Controller services are also integral to effective cash flow planning.

Many small businesses fail because they run out of money. In fact, one recent study cited “running out of cash” as the second most common reason for startup failure after “no market need”. By building out your financial plan, a fractional controller helps you understand the realities of your financial data in good times and bad.

Contact us today to learn how you can use Enkel’s flexible fractional controller services to navigate your growth challenges.

Ready for a fractional controller to help you navigate your growth challenges?

Get in Touch