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Controller-Template-HeroBeing the new kid in class is rarely a pleasant experience. You’re a stranger in a strange land, tasked with learning a lengthy list of written and unwritten rules, making friends, and quickly trying to fit in before the other kids label you a weirdo.

A new controller or financial leader for your organization is in a similar boat – minus the weirdo part, hopefully – just with far steeper consequences. Because if they don’t hit the ground running, it’s every stakeholder, employee, and customer that bears the brunt of an inefficient, disorganized, and generally messy transition.

That’s why we’ve put together our comprehensive template for leadership transitions – to ensure both your organization and newest financial leader don’t skip a beat. In fact, our template is a page straight out of Embark’s own client playbook. So let’s take a closer look at what goodies you can expect.

The Accounting Leadership & Controller Transition Template

All the Relevant Information in a Single Spot

Put yourself in a new controller’s shoes for a moment. Or any new financial leader, for that matter. Not only are you walking into a completely foreign organization with new faces as far as the eye can see, but also into a finance and accounting machine that’s usually been operating – for better or worse – for quite some time now.

Obviously, things can get chaotic fast for a new controller. But as you’ll see in our free template, simply categorizing those seemingly endless tasks, questions, and requests is a great way to keep everything in check.

At Embark, whether we’re providing continuity by acting as an interim CFO, CAO, or controller for a client, or guiding a company on a transition to new leadership, we start with a set of initial procedures and a request list.

Initial Procedures

Ideally, the departing controller or financial leader will still be around to walk through everything with their replacement. That’s not always possible, though, for any number of reasons. No matter the circumstances, however, it’s essential for someone – or perhaps multiple people – to walk the replacement through everything, including items like:

  • Recent financials and especially important line items
  • Existing agreements, legal proceedings, and technical accounting issues
  • Critical audit, tax, regulatory, bank compliance, and SEC reporting deadlines
  • Accounting and finance team members, roles, and responsibilities
  • Payroll processes and overarching control and governance
  • All third-party relationships

Granted, you’ll find a much more thorough list in our template. For now, however, the biggest takeaway should be this:

Your new controller must quickly get acclimated to an awful lot, so taking an organized, deliberate approach will help make their immersion as seamless and worry-free as possible.


Yes, everyone is different. However, most new controllers will require specific information as they wade into the waters of their new role. Therefore, this section of our template focuses on items a controller either should or will request from your organization, so it’s best to have the following at the ready:

Once again, you’ll find a far more lengthy and nuanced list of requests in our template. But as with the Procedures section, preparation and attention to detail are the biggest takeaways here. Have these items in the holster and ready to go for your new controller because they’re definitely going to need them, if not on the first day, then soon thereafter.

Start Preparing Yesterday

Suffice it to say, if you don’t already have these numerous items prepared once new financial leadership starts, you’re making the transition significantly more difficult for everyone involved. Thus, even if you don’t anticipate a change any time soon and you’re just reading this because you like our prose, it’s still a good idea to gather and maintain this critical information.

After all, as you’ve probably heard several hundred times, life has a way of throwing us curveballs. If you do have a change on the horizon, however, and find yourself woefully unprepared after looking over our template, we promise all hope isn’t lost.

Besides functioning as interim financial leadership when needed, our team of specialists here at Embark can also help you prep for a new controller, manager, CFO, or any other financial leader. Put another way, besides creating the extremely beneficial template accompanying these musings, we can also help you prepare for everything it speaks to. It’s what we do.

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