What is a controller?

A controller is a person who is responsible for all activities related to accounting, including high-level accounting, management accounting and financial activities within a company. A financial controller is generally responsible to the financial director (CFO) of a company, although these two positions can be combined in small companies. The duties of a controller include assisting in the preparation of operating budgets, supervising financial reports and performing essential payroll tasks.

The controller has many tasks which can include preparing budgets and describing important budget calendars throughout an organization. This includes collecting, analyzing and consolidating financial data. Although the controller does not always maintain the annual budget, the position of controller monitors variances, summarizes trends and studies budget deficits. The controller reports to management any significant budgetary differences or expenditure differences.

Understanding the work of controllers

Comptroller duties vary from company to company due to the size and complexity of the company and the industry. A variation in the position of the controller is called a controller. A controller is generally a higher position that is most often found in government or non-profit organizations. Small businesses demand more versatility from the controller, while larger companies are able to distribute the following professional responsibilities among other employees, including the CFO and treasurer.

The controller of an organization can participate in the recruitment, selection and training of staff. The position requires evaluating the results of the job, directing employees and taking disciplinary action as required. The financial controller often maintains educational levels by pursuing continuing professional development through seminars, webinars or training opportunities.

In terms of job opportunities, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 10-year growth from 2020 to 2026 for financial managers (controllers) of 19%, which is “much faster than the average”.

Key points to remember

  • A controller acts as a monitor of the financial health of a business.
  • Depending on the needs of the business, a controller may also be responsible for hiring and training staff who will work in the finance department.
  • The controllers are not only responsible for calculating the net profit, but also for complying with the requirements in terms of taxes, permits and licenses.

Requirements for controllers

When recruiting for a controller position, companies often require that candidates have at least 10 years of direct accounting or finance experience. A bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration is often required, while a master’s degree is not mandatory but preferable. Professional certificates, including the Chartered Accountant license, may not be required but are generally preferred.

Special considerations

The controller works with external auditors to ensure that the appropriate reporting standards are used. In addition, the controller establishes, monitors and applies the internal control of financial information. Supervisors of listed companies are often delegated the task of filing public financial documents.

The controller of a company monitors future legislation which has an impact on taxation and operations. This obligation includes monitoring future risks and ensuring appropriate permits, licenses or operating requirements. In addition to the filing of financial reports, the controller may be entrusted with the tasks of preparing income declarations, in particular declarations of state taxes, federal taxes or industrial taxes.

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