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What Does A Controller Do In Finance?

controller of a company

Last, it is not an industry requirement to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), or any other type of licensure. For many, these licensures will help and may be a preferred requirement for the role. For larger public companies, controllers will often be required to have at least a CPA license.

controller of a company

A controller is an individual who has responsibility for all accounting-related activities, including high-level accounting, managerial accounting, and finance activities, within a company. The duties of a controller include assisting with the preparation of the operating budgets, overseeing financial reporting and performing essential duties relating to payroll. That said, a financial controller does not deal solely with the accounting team. A controller also serves as the liaison between a company’s finance team and senior management, as they regularly use complex financial data to offer strategic insights to internal stakeholders.


The controller for a large company might report to the chief financial officer (CFO), while the controller for a small company may be reporting directly to the president or owner. Most accountants study accounting and receive a degree in that subject. In most cases, the road toward becoming a controller starts with a Bachelor’s degree, usually in a subject like finance, accounting, business, statistics, or economics. Without that, you’ll have a really hard time getting the time of day from the hiring manager, let alone a job offer.

The CFO may distribute some of the financial management responsibilities between a controller and a treasurer. These types of requests often bombard the controllership function on a daily basis and prevent controllers from breaking out of the vicious cycle. Instead, they spend too much time focused on traditional roles—and not enough on evolving into a more strategic business partner. An organization’s size influences the roles of a financial controller and a CFO. In smaller organizations with both a CEO and financial controller, these leaders share responsibility for all facets of the company’s financial processes.

  • Most of what a financial controller does falls into one of four categories, referred to as the “Four Faces of Controllership” by the IMA.
  • This advanced role usually comes after many years of study and work experience.
  • A controller is the point person for making sure the financial reporting is done correctly.
  • A controller may also be called on to lend his or her expertise on investments, creditor relationships, corporate governance, or other areas.

The workers who excel in these jobs and put the most into them are the ones most likely to be considered for promotions, which lead up the ladder, possibly to the controller position. For larger companies, controllers report up to a CFO or other executive. The controller is usually not part of the executive leadership team. The company and the controller may opt to contract a third-party business tax accountant. In that event, the controller is responsible for providing the tax accountant with all the information they’ll need to file the tax form accurately. Therefore, the company can minimize their tax bill and maximize their tax return.

Definition of Company Controller

Most of what a financial controller does falls into one of four categories, referred to as the “Four Faces of Controllership” by the IMA. When it is time for a routine audit, the controller helps prepare all the documentation the audit officer will require. This makes the audit run more smoothly, saving the company time, money and even hassle. After the audit, the controller is also responsible for making any changes the audit requires for compliance.

It all depends on the size of their company and the organization’s unique needs. Practically speaking, an experienced CFO can also provide access to an important network of other professionals. There are two schools of thought regarding how big a company should be before hiring a CFO. One uses revenue as a measurement, with multiple studies coalescing around a $25 million threshold, while others recommend $50 million to $100 million. In most cases, the nature of the business, the financial savvy of its owner and its capital structure inform where in that wide range a company will need a CFO’s expertise.

Roles of Financial Controllers

Chief financial officers (CFOs) and financial controllers have a lot in common — and some significant differences, too. In midsize to large companies, they can be a dynamic duo, working hand-in-hand to put a company hsa contribution limits 2019 and more hsa rules you need to know on its best possible financial footing. A controller may start in a junior accounting position before progressing through mid-level jobs like staff accountant to become an accounting manager or supervisor.

Last, controllers often transition into the role of assistant controller before making the jump to a full controller role. An assistant controller is simply a more junior position that may perform many of the same tasks as a controller. However, the junior controller may not take full ownership of responsibility for outcomes as this may transition to a controller.

  • It also protects the company from honest mistakes on the part of the bank or financial institution.
  • Maintenance of accounting records falls under the purview of the controller.
  • For larger public companies, controllers will often be required to have at least a CPA license.
  • The controller, also referred to as a comptroller in government and nonprofit businesses, is responsible for maintaining accurate books and records and for running the day-to-day activities of the accounting department.
  • In general, CFOs often take a greater presence in external-facing tasks including mergers, acquisitions, or involvement with investors.

They also serve as the primary point of contact between the accounting and finance departments and your company’s executive team. All financial data the executive team receives and uses goes from the accounting and finance departments to the executive staff via the controller. The controller will use the insights from their staff to guide the executive team in their decisions. If controllers understand the impact of these forces and embrace the changing workforce, they can benefit from the opportunities found in the future of work.

Their policies and procedures determine how the departments operate and keep the company running smoothly. This includes everything from streamlining and benchmarking to the accounting software the company uses. BLS data projects the number of financial manager jobs will grow 15% between 2019 and 2029. While the data does not break out the number of those positions that will be for the controller role, this is much faster than the 4% projected growth rate for all occupations during this period. Usually, the controller duties go far beyond a typical accountant job description.

Maintaining a balance between strategy and traditional responsibilities

Controllers understand the company’s financial objectives and work to make them achievable. Such transitions usually arise in tandem with staff and business expansion, when advanced predictive modeling, cash-flow forecasting and spending control become more critical. Other common catalysts include international expansion, adding a subscription model or considering big technology investments. Controllers will make sure that the books are prepared accurately, the company expenses are paid, and that any money owed to the company is collected. This bar shows an approximation of how a controller’s time is typically apportioned among the four categories.

For companies with both a controller and vice president of finance, the controller would most likely report directly to the vice president. As every company will require different qualifications, there is no single career path to becoming a controller. However, many controllers get their start by working in the accounting field, often in public accounting.

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Controller vs CFO: 6 Key Differences to Understand

However, the controller will have final approval of that data and use it to compile reports and other data. These reports and pieces of data will then be used in other areas of the company. Your company’s controller is responsible for preparing the company’s financial statements and reports.

controller of a company

In no arena are companies more scrutinized and regulated than in finance. After the financial crisis of 2008, a host of new regulations dictated how businesses must handle their finances and report their financial positions to the public. Publicly traded companies must subject their financial statements to yearly third-party audits, and they must release the results of the audits to the public. It is the controller’s job to coordinate this process and ensure that the auditors have all the information they need to render an accurate judgment of the company’s financial statements. The controller must stay apprised of all the local, state and federal tax laws and business regulations that affect their company, and they must ensure that the company operates within the proper parameters.

Specific Tasks of Financial Controllers

For public companies traded on stock exchanges, these reports are required by law for shareholders’ review. At Paro, we leverage our proprietary AI technology to build flexible, focused teams of remote experts that help companies solve problems and drive growth. Our laser focus on finance allows us to quickly identify experts across the U.S. with the right mix of skills, credentials, and experience to achieve each company’s specific  goals.

Controllers can’t afford to be experts in just one area since they have to oversee entire accounting operations and offer systemic advice to their contemporaries. A common yet underappreciated role of the business controller is interpreting financial data. Controllers typically have a great deal of accounting and business forecasting experience, particularly as it pertains to tax management. A controller may also be called on to lend his or her expertise on investments, creditor relationships, corporate governance, or other areas. The first is to take responsibility for overseeing the completion of internal control audits, focusing specifically on possible errors or fraud.

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