The controller also helps guide a company’s strategic financial decisions, and is therefore integral to the financial health of the firm. If you’re aiming for this role, you’ll want to research controller salaries, skills and responsibilities so you’ll be well-prepared to compete for this senior management position. This senior position generally requires years of proven experience in various levels of accounting. Generally speaking, in smaller companies, the controller must take on more duties.
Controllers must understand their employers’ financial goals and offer data-informed recommendations on how to meet them. Accounting professionals who make it to the controller position enjoy above-average salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2019 the median annual income for a controller (listed as financial managers) is $129,890. However, this is just the median number, and among the 50% who make more than this, many make a lot more. Controllers at Fortune 500 companies regularly earn well into six figures and sometimes more than $250,000.
Controller vs CFO
The CFO is both the leader of the finance team and a member of the executive leadership. On the one hand, they have to ensure that the finance team is well run and that everyone all the detailed work is done. On the other, they have to make strategic decisions to help the company achieve its potential. This can include working hand-in-hand with the CEO and presenting reports to the board. They’re also typically in charge of policies and procedures to ensure that the right transactions are made by employees.
- They should usually have at least seven years of experience in the accounting field, and some public accounting experience is often required.
- Because tax deductions, health insurance payments, accurate paychecks and more all fall under the controller’s oversight.
- At larger companies the controller may be assisted by other accountants.
- Financial controllers are in charge of the past; they review historical transactions and ensure reporting is done correctly.
- A controller is the point person for making sure the financial reporting is done correctly.
A comptroller is typically a more senior position that is more commonly found in government or nonprofit organizations. A controller and comptroller simply have similar roles in different industries. This of course means communication within the finance team and to direct reports.
Regarding education, becoming a financial controller almost always requires at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or a similar field. In most situations, a master’s degree is preferred, with many companies now making a master’s degree a requirement. As we’ve seen, managing company spend is a key goal for most financial controllers.
More reads on Finance strategy
The controller oversees all employees involved in the accounting process, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, inventory and compliance. The CFO and CEO typically have the final say, however, they make those decisions based on financial reports. The financial reports are created by the controller and their accounting and finance staff. The controller measures any risk involved in the decision, whether the company can sustain the decisions financially and more. The controller decides which processes the accounting and finance departments use in their day-to-day operations.
These controllers take on a variety of duties and execute more day-to-day accounting tasks like bookkeeping. Financial management careers offer solid job security, strong salary potential and plenty of room for advancement. In the accounting field, these senior finance professionals lead accounting departments and help shape financial strategy at organizations of all sizes. If a company has subsidiaries, the controller oversees their accounting operations and ensures their reporting and control systems fall within the parameters set by the parent company.
The Four Faces of Controllership
Without the strength of the accounting team here at [Company X], we wouldn’t be able to offer the industry-leading service we’re known for. We’re seeking an experienced controller to oversee this high-performing team. The ideal candidate will have experience as an accountant in our industry, preferably in a senior role.
More transaction volume, and different kinds of transactions, requires more oversight. There are always additional roles and responsibilities that are industry-specific. The list above should give you a good understanding of what the roles and responsibilities are at large.
CFO roles and responsibilities
The simplest reason that most financial controllers aren’t considered “strategic controllers” is that it’s not an explicit part of their job descriptions. CFOs and FP&A leaders are there for the strategy, and controllers are there to control. For this reason, it’s usually expected that job applications show significant experience in accounting and tax issues, plus the ability to guide others and take ownership of the company’s books. They oversee accounting teams, advise executives on finance matters, help create company budgets and ensure that accounting functions run smoothly.
And it’s not just the first time around – errors discovered late in the day mean you then have to go back and re-enter much of the data you’ve already dealt with. With all this in mind, let’s explore the role, responsibilities, and goals of financial controllers fully. Many controllers have several professional certifications, such as the CPA, chartered global management accountant (CGMA), chartered financial analyst (CFA) or certified management accountant (CMA). CPA licensure requirements vary by state but usually include a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of accounting experience. Most states require at least 150 semester hours of education as well.
In this article, we’ll examine these professionals’ responsibilities and the skills required to excel in their profession. We’ll also explore earning potential, job outlook and prerequisites for this role. To be competitive, aspiring controllers should start with a college major of accounting, economics, finance or statistics, and follow it up with an MBA or master’s of accountancy (MAcc) degree. The master’s degree is more than an educational credential; it also fulfills the educational requirement to sit for the CPA exam, something an aspiring controller should have on their resume. Up to a certain point you can likely get away with purely outsourced accountants. But when those transactions become overwhelming, it’s time to add a full-time expert to the team.