The formulas, tricks and trade secrets of Private Equity

Financial Controller Private Equity

Sample Chapter

My experience is that most investees suffer from a lack of financial discipline. And, with almost every investment my firm has made, we’ve had to somehow improve the financial expertise in each investee. The most obvious in-house alternative to hiring a new financial controller is to monitor the financials and make regular process improvements ourselves (as private equiteers). But, this can quickly become burdensome as the private equity portfolio grows.

A midway solution is to hire a financial controller at the private equity fund level to oversee and improve financial management across the entire portfolio. The advantages of this are manifold:

  • A single overseer of financial performance can provide the private equity team with consistent data across all investees (same template, same metrics, same formulas, same processes, same assumptions, etc.)
  • It is much cheaper; hiring a great (opposed to good) financial controller for each and every investee is very expensive at the mid-market level
  • In many cases, you’re spared firing a good financial manager (in exchange for a great one), who likely has years of experience in the business and is therefore a wealth of investee-specific knowledge
  • It frees up the investment team from having to deal with minor financial compliance issues

The largest disadvantage of hiring a firm-wide financial controller is that if you hire a dud, they could potentially create issues across your entire portfolio. Other than that, it’s a good idea for firms looking to have more time for strategic value-add. You can even charge the controller’s salary to each of the investees, rather than have him/her erode your management fees. Win, win.

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