How long does it take to recruit a financial controller, whats typical?

The recruitment timeline for a financial controller can vary widely depending on several factors, including the industry, the specific requirements of the role, the geographical location, and the current job market conditions. However, a general framework can provide a rough estimate of the time involved in recruiting a financial controller.

1. Defining the Role and Preparing the Job Description:

  • Time Required: 1-2 weeks.
  • Process: This involves identifying the specific needs, qualifications, and responsibilities for the financial controller position. It’s crucial to get this step right to attract the right candidates.

2. Advertising the Position:

  • Time Required: 2-4 weeks.
  • Process: The job is advertised on various platforms, including job boards, social media, industry-specific websites, and possibly through recruitment agencies. The length of this phase can depend on the visibility and reach of the advertising strategy.

3. Receiving and Reviewing Applications:

  • Time Required: 2-4 weeks.
  • Process: After the job posting closes, the applications are reviewed. This phase might overlap with the advertising period if applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

4. Interviewing Candidates:

  • Time Required: 2-4 weeks.
  • Process: Shortlisted candidates are interviewed. This often involves multiple rounds, including preliminary screenings, formal interviews, and possibly practical assessments or presentations. Coordination of schedules can extend this period.

5. Selection and Offer:

  • Time Required: 1-2 weeks.
  • Process: The selected candidate is offered the position. This phase includes negotiations on salary and benefits, which can take some time to finalize.

6. Background Checks and References:

  • Time Required: 1-2 weeks.
  • Process: Conducting thorough background and reference checks is essential for a role with financial responsibilities. This can be done concurrently with the selection and offer phase.

7. Notice Period of the Candidate:

  • Time Required: 2-4 weeks or more.
  • Process: Most candidates will need to serve a notice period at their current place of employment. The duration can vary significantly, from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the level of the position and the policies of the current employer.

Recruiting a financial controller is a critical task for any organization, given the pivotal role this position plays in financial management and strategic decision-making. Organizations typically face a choice between using a recruitment agency or conducting the recruitment process in-house. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on various factors, including the organization’s specific needs, resources, and timeline. Here’s a comparison of the two approaches:

Using a Recruitment Agency


  1. Expertise and Specialization: Recruitment agencies often specialize in specific industries or roles, including financial positions. They have a deep understanding of the market, the skills required for the role, and the expectations of candidates, which can lead to more precise matches.
  2. Access to a Wider Talent Pool: Agencies have extensive networks and databases of candidates, including passive candidates who might not actively be looking for a new role but are open to opportunities. This can significantly broaden the scope of the search.
  3. Time-Saving: The agency handles the bulk of the recruitment process, from advertising the position and screening candidates to scheduling interviews. This can save significant time for the organization’s internal staff, allowing them to focus on their core responsibilities.
  4. Confidentiality: Using an agency can provide a level of confidentiality, particularly useful if a company does not want to disclose publicly that they are hiring for certain positions.


  1. Cost: The primary disadvantage of using a recruitment agency is the cost, which typically includes a percentage of the hired candidate’s first-year salary. For senior positions like a financial controller, this can be a significant expense.
  2. Less Control Over the Process: While agencies work to understand the needs of their clients, the organization has less direct control over the screening and selection process, which may lead to mismatches in expectations or cultural fit.

Recruiting In-House


  1. Cost Efficiency: Avoiding agency fees can result in significant cost savings, particularly for organizations with a tight budget or those looking to minimize recruitment costs.
  2. Greater Control and Insight: Conducting the process in-house gives the organization full control over every stage, from crafting the job description to finalizing the hire. This can help ensure that candidates fit not only the role but also the company culture.
  3. Direct Engagement with Candidates: In-house recruitment allows for direct interaction with candidates throughout the process, facilitating a more personal connection and understanding of the candidates’ motivations and suitability for the role.


  1. Time and Resource Intensive: Recruiting in-house can be a lengthy process, requiring significant time and resources from the organization’s HR department or hiring managers. This includes advertising the role, screening applicants, conducting interviews, and negotiating offers.
  2. Limited Reach: The organization’s network might not be as extensive as that of a recruitment agency, potentially limiting access to passive candidates or those in specific niches.
  3. Risk of Bias: In-house recruitment processes may be more susceptible to unconscious biases, which can affect the diversity and quality of hires.

In conclusion, the choice between using a recruitment agency and recruiting in-house for a financial controller position depends on the organization’s priorities, whether they value the expertise and broad reach of an agency or prefer the control and cost savings of managing the process internally. Balancing the trade-offs between cost, control, reach, and efficiency is key to making the best decision for the organization.

Overall Timeframe:

Putting all these phases together, the total time from defining the role to the new financial controller starting can range from approximately 10 to 20 weeks, or roughly 2.5 to 5 months. This is a typical timeframe but can be shorter or longer based on the specifics of the situation.

It’s important for companies to plan accordingly and start the recruitment process well in advance of when they need the new financial controller to begin. Employing interim solutions, such as temporary or part-time financial expertise, can be a strategic move to ensure continuity in financial leadership and oversight during this transition period.

FD Capital are a leading London based recruiter of Part-Time Financial Controllers.

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