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The responsibility of the financial control division is far more than routinely preparing and tracking the budgets. The team has to provide accurate financial data to facilitate the monitoring and evaluation of a company’s performance and the effectiveness of business plans. A wide range of financial statements, operating ratios and other financial tools are used to perform the financial control function.
In light of tightening regulatory reporting requirements, professionals of high caliber are in great demand for financial control function, who may also be responsible for traditional data analysis, market and product analysis, and risk and strategic assessments.
The structure and trading volume of the equities, fixed income and derivatives are complicated and enormous within financial institutions. The risk of holding and trading the assets can be extremely high and therefore required to be monitored closely.
The major role of the product control division is to look after the “book-keeping” process of the trading desks on a daily basis, and to make sure the trading records are marked in fair value on a daily basis. It is important to ensure that the traders do not exceed their assigned risk limit. The positions, performance and risk associated with each portfolio must be stringently controlled. Poor product control was one of the reasons cited for the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Internal auditing should be a largely independent section within an organization. By employing a systematic and disciplined approach, auditors evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes.
In the process of an institution’s efforts of strengthening internal control and procedure, auditors and professionals with expertise in different products and businesses may be brought together to work on auditing certain particular areas such as operation and financial crime related investigations. Internal auditors with strong product and business knowledge in specific banking segments and markets are highly sought after.
Management Reporting / FP&A
The Management Reporting or FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) division requires team members to have an understanding of management accounting knowledge including financial analysis, budgeting, capital planning, forecasting, strategic planning and business modeling. The team manages not just numbers but also work with multiple departments to generate periodic reports to the senior management, in which business analysis and insight are provided.
To perform the FP&A function, staff of the division should have solid operating and accounting training, and have the ability to optimize the overall operating model. Furthermore, the information necessary to generate insights must be gained timely and accurately to facilitate the decision making process. They may also contribute to the institutional strategy like exploring new ventures and investment opportunities.
Under Hong Kong’s financial reporting framework and regulatory requirements, accountants are responsible for regular bookkeeping, generating trial balance, general ledger, balance sheet, profit & loss. The team has to support all works relating to year-end closing and statutory reporting, including the annual statutory financial statements. They may liaise with auditors throughout the process.