Effective cost-control standards and strong internal controls are a large part of what separates highly successful businesses from less-successful ones. Although every associate from the business owner on down is responsible for controlling costs and adhering to internal controls, members of the financial management staff provide financial oversight for the entire organization. The specific role the financial management staff plays may depend on the size of the business, but it often includes monitoring, analysis and advising duties.
Who Financial Managers Are
The smaller the business, the smaller and more varied the responsibilities of the financial management staff will be. In a medium to large business, each member of the financial management staff may be responsible for different areas of the business. There might, for example, be one staff member responsible for overseeing the credit department, one responsible for overseeing cash flows and one responsible for risk management. In a small business, however, there may be only one or two staff members technically on the financial management staff who enlist the help of department managers in carrying out daily responsibilities.
Overseers of Internal Controls
One of the most important responsibilities of the financial management staff is to ensure that each department develops, implements and adheres to internal business controls. The stronger the internal control system, the less chance a business has of falling victim to fraud, waste or abuse. Monitoring responsibilities may include participating in scheduled and random internal department audits and analyzing department financial data. Other responsibilities may include assisting in creating business policies such as a code of ethics or conduct that set behavioral expectations and outline consequences for violations.
Profit Expansion Specialists
Financial managers spend time analyzing market and economic trends, and historic and current sales revenues to find ways to maximize business profits. Financial staff members don’t make decisions about, for example, whether to expand the business, add a new product line or move in a different direction. They do, however, provide information and give advice that can help a business owner or senior managers make critical financial decisions. They also assist in profit expansion by working with department managers to find additional ways to control costs.
Year end is a busy time for financial management staffers. Many are responsible for advising and for assisting department managers and the business owner in creating budgets and forecasts for the upcoming year. Responsibilities can include financial statement analysis, assisting in creating sales and inventory forecasts and analyzing expenses to assist in budget planning. Other planning responsibilities may include cash flow management planning to ensure the business has funds on hand to meet daily expenses and minimize the necessity of using outside funding sources.
Routine end-of-month reporting responsibilities are often left to department employees, while members of the financial management staff take responsibility for reviewing reports for accuracy. Government, tax and industry-specific reporting, however, are often the sole responsibility of the financial management staff. Information contained in routine and specialized reports is then provided to the business owner, senior managers and, if appropriate, department managers.