Controller – Definition

Cite this article as:"Controller – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated October 22, 2019, last accessed October 29, 2020,


Controller Definition

A controller refers to an employee or an individual in a company that manages the finances and accounting activities of the company. A controller is often in charge of all accounting and financial activities of a company, a controller can also be the head of the accounting department of a firm and is responsible for collating all financial reports and accounting activities.

In large companies, a controller directly reports to the chief financial officer (CFO) of the firm. In smaller businesses, the duties of a controller and a CFO can be merged and assigned to one person.  Controllers are also referred to as financial managers.

A Little More on What is a Controller

Based on the various sizes and function sod businesses, the duties of controllers vary. While the roles of a controller and CFO are separated by large companies, small companies merge their roles. Government institutions and NGOs, on the other hand, have a comptroller, who occupies a senior position than a controller.

The duties of a controller include the following;

  • Preparing the budgets of a frim, including budgets for various operations and departments.
  • Collation and analysis of financial reports and data.
  • Managing and maintaining the annual budget of a firm.
  • Investigating deficiencies in budgets and making direct reports to the management.

In some organizations, controllers participate in employee recruitment, training and employee appraisal. Erring employees are also sanctioned by controllers in some organizations.

Requirements for Controllers

When a company wants to recruit a controller, there are certain requirements that applicants must meet, they include the following;

  • A bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance or accounting.
  • A minimum of 10 years of experience in accounting, financing or other related fields.
  • Professional certification or designation, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Manager (CFA) and others.
  • A master’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration is a plus.
  • Other requirements include integrity, honesty and high professional conduct.

Special Considerations

Oftentimes, controllers are required to work or liaise with external auditors for effective management of accounting activities and financial reporting. External auditors also helo controllers maintain the required standards needed for discharging their duties and performing their roles. In publicly traded companies, controllers file the financial statement of the company and are accountable to regulatory and oversight bodies. For many businesses and organizations, controllers ensure adequate monitoring of all financial activities and analyze the risks and impacts of certain activities. These controllers also ensure that companies strictly comply with ethics and regulations and also obtain necessary licenses and permits. Other duties of controllers include filing of state and federal tax reports and financial statements for companies.

Reference for “Controller” › Accounting Dictionary › Investing › Financial Analysis

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