What Are the Responsibilities of a Controller?
Posted by Variety Staffing
A company’s controller has an important role, as he or she is responsible for leading the accounting department; it’s a tall order! At large companies, the controller may supervise accountants and other staff members such as accounting managers, payroll managers, tax managers, and more. In this setting, the controller usually reports back to the chief financial officer, or CFO. At small companies, the controller may be the only accountant on staff and receive help from an accounting clerk. In this setting, the controller typically answers to the president or owner of the company.
Let’s learn more about the core responsibilities of this executive-level accounting position.
A Day in the Life: What Do Controllers Do?
Controllers are busy people! They oversee all activities within the accounting department and are often the go-to person for guidance. Here are some of the tasks they are responsible for.
- Accounts payable
- Accounts receivable
- Financial data analysis
- Cost accounting
- Financial statements
- General ledger
- Tax compliance
- Budgeting expenses
How Does a Controller Differ from a CFO?
It’s common for people to confuse a controller with a CFO, but the two roles are different. Both are considered financial leadership positions, and both are needed in larger organizations. However, controllers are responsible for accurate reporting, budgeting, tax compliance, and financials, whereas CFOs analyze records and understand how the financial status of the company affects the overall picture.
Going from being an accountant to a controller is a natural progression in the corporate world. However, controllers don’t necessarily move onto become CFOs. Experience matters, but skill sets are equally, if not more important. For someone who plans on moving up to a CFO position one day, accounting and financial reporting is only a fraction of what they should know. Additional skills include understanding business operations, assessing business risks, and making smart decisions.
Finding Qualified Controllers
Controllers are well-educated. They should possess skills in organization, analytics, and precision. They should also be familiar with the laws and how to comply with them. With such high stakes, it can be difficult to find experienced controllers to put your trust in. If you cannot hire internally, work with a staffing company like Variety Staffing that will give you access to top talent in the accounting profession.