Controllers Career Guide


(Private company CFOs make 45% less than those at public companies.) Tack on benefits and bonus and you can expect to pay $225,000 to $275,000 depending on business size. Champions of controllership find ways to innovate, automate, and scale accounting processes amidst continued disruption and despite a host of challenges. They have a vision for the future, believe in using technology to bring about change, and activate teams to modernize accounting. Attend this webcast to hear from BlackLine’s Champions of Controllership on how companies are advancing with technology. Depending on the size of the business, an accountant may do some of the same duties as a bookkeeper. Typically however, accountants have a four-year college degree and have a higher level of expertise and experience than bookkeepers. This is when it can be advantageous to look into a financial services firm such as Greenough Group, mainly if you are an SMB or startup still earning under $10m in revenue.

  • Accounting controllers also direct organizations’ financial decisions, monitor accounting software, and regulate financial systems.
  • Working as a controller in accounting can lead to further promotion in the financial industry.
  • Traditionally, the financial controller is an executive role in small companies, given it’s likely their highest-level finance position.
  • For most organizations, fall is the time to prepare the annual budget in time for the start of the fiscal year.

Hear from BlackLine’s Champions of Controllership on how companies are advancing with technology. GrowthForce accounting services provided through an alliance with SK CPA, PLLC. Is to be able to project the long-term financial picture of the company and help it thrive based on his or her analyses. And we’ll outline how our services can help your business reach the next plateau of success.

Is Financial Controller An Executive Role?

If the CEO can’t take the lead on building and telling the financial story required in fundraising, a CFO is often asked to join the team to support these efforts and round out the C-level expertise of the company. To simplify the major difference, a CFO will often be involved in fundraising and finance strategy, whereas a controller’s responsibilities usually stop at ensuring accurate reporting. There are many reasons small business owners consider beefing up their finance team. Whatever your reasons, we’re glad you’re thinking about it, because, from our experience, most owners wait too long to get help. Accountants are the front-line people as far as the data and numbers are concerned. They are responsible for managing the company’s accounts and ensuring proper reconciliation.

controllers career guide

Senior-level accountancy jobs require a CPA designation and maybe even a certified management accountant , chartered financial analyst , or other professional designation. Senior financial accounting and reporting jobs might need three to six years of work experience, while tax accountants or junior auditors might only need one to three years after passing the CPA exams. A business controller is essentially a chief accounting officer for a firm. The controller is considered a member of the executive staff and typically plays a critical role in organizing and controlling the accounting personnel in the company. Life as an accountant isn’t particularly glamorous, but few career paths match its combination of solid pay, low stress, job security, and opportunity for advancement. Few accountants ever worry about burning out or feel compelled to switch industries, and many will move into positions of prominence and importance in an organization. One such position is the controller (sometimes spelled “comptroller,” but always pronounced “controller”), who is the person responsible for a firm’s accounting-related activities.

What Are The Duties Of A Financial Controller?

DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Not only does the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s – online MAc program give participants access to a focused curriculum delivered by industry experts, it also prepares graduates to take the CPA examination. Achieving a CPA certificate or similar industry credential can act as a stepping stone along a career ladder leading to a controller position. Failures in any of these duties could cause serious problems for companies, and there is little margin for error. Someone who can talk through processes they’ve established or managed clearly.Duties include managing cash flow and financial planning and financial projections and the ability to audit a company’s finances to identify and act on challenges and opportunities. Technology is a critical tool for successfully meeting the “control” aspects of the controller’s job.

Steps To Becoming A Financial Controller

There are various roles, both internal and external, that can help with the day-to-day as well as the reporting and strategic advisory. It’s better to look at experienced accountants (even managers or other senior-level positions) when making comparisons to controllers. Entry-level accountancy jobs may be perfectly fine, but the vast majority of controllers have years of experience and several professional certifications. Almost all controllers start out as public accountants or work in corporate settings before moving up. Additionally, financial controllers need excellent communication and interpersonal skills. The financial controller is the face of the accounting function to other departments in the company, educating non-financial people and enforcing company policies in a collaborative, rather than adversarial, way.

What makes a good business controller?

This means having the leadership skills, drive, willingness, and ability to make changes to major processes. Controllers can become good process improvers by listening to employees and managers, learning what the real issues and obstacles are, and then making appropriate changes.Accountants must implement the accounting principles of the company, be it the matching principle, revenue recognition, or GAAP accounting. In short, accountants deal with regular upkeep and reconciliation of the accounts. Because bookkeepers are the source of the original data entry, they must understand how to code each transaction. Are responsible for entering the data into the books and keeping the records up to date.


Controllers of publicly traded companies are often delegated the task of public financial filings. A controller is an individual who has responsibility for all accounting-related activities within a company including managerial accounting and finance. A certified public accountant is a designation given to those who meet education and experience requirements and pass an exam. A Berkeley analysis of controllers between 2013 and 2015 estimated that the average controller works 170 hours per month, or a little less than 43 hours a week. Like their accounting counterparts, controllers tend to experience a much better work/life balance than others in the financial industry. Often, the controller has one or two assistant controllers at their disposal.For example, project-based businesses like general contractors might have a controller support the purchasing process to keep expenses in line and establish reporting to enable job/project profitability monitoring. Assists both internal and external auditors with their examinations of the company’s financial reports and controls. While mostly forward looking, the CFO oversees, or if need be, performs the Controllership duties – ensuring accurate and timely reporting is available to the businesses’ key stakeholders. He or she must communicate responsibilities and expectations to the organization so everyone understands their role. Once the data’s being processed, it’s up to the controller to ensure the accuracy and viability of each financial statement. The controller works with external auditors to ensure proper reporting standards are being utilized. In addition, the controller establishes, monitors, and enforces internal control over financial reporting.


According to Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide, controllers can earn a median of $118,250. Corporate controllers stand to earn $173,750 as a median, while the base salary for a divisional controller is projected to be $143,000, and assistant corporate controllers typically earn $106,250. The combination of in-depth financial reporting and strategy with people management means controllers should possess a combination of hard knowledge and soft skills. Accounting expertise and regulatory acumen are essential traits of controllers, but so are the ability to delegate tasks and an understanding of employee motivation. Some investor-backed companies, such as Software as a Service businesses, have more sophisticated needs than other companies with the same annual revenue. That sophistication means the business may need contract CFO services at $500K, rather than $1MM, and could hire a full-time CFO at around $35MM, rather than $50MM.It involves tracking all income and expenses, paying bills, invoicing, tracking payroll, etc. We provide back-office support at various levels from Chief Financial Officer to Office Administrator for Investment companies and their rapid-growth portfolio companies. With the development of regular reporting and cash flow management, a Controller can help. A branch manager is an executive who is in charge of the branch office of a bank or financial institution. Will Kenton is an expert on the economy and investing laws and regulations.These skills also enhance their ability to hire and manage well-run, productive teams. 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. An online Master of Accounting degree, for example, may help professionals prepare for controller work. Most senior accounting and controller jobs require a CPA designation, but depending on the organization’s size, they may prefer candidates with additional certifications. Many hiring companies prefer certified management accountants, chartered global management accountants, and chartered financial analysts for leadership roles. Holding a graduate-level degree also offers an advantage in salary negotiation.Controllers in small companies, whether internal or contractors, are mostly involved in detailed accounting tasks that are beyond the skills of the company’s bookkeepers. In midsize enterprises — where responsibilities are broadest — financial controller duties are likely to include project management, technology, insurance and compliance functions. In large enterprises, financial controllers work with chief financial officers , chief accounting officers , finance managers and treasurers to control the finance and administration function. 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. A financial controller typically reports to a firm’s chief financial officer , although these two positions may be combined in smaller businesses.

The Role Of The Ceo Is Changing: Heres How You Can Prepare

Brainyard delivers data-driven insights and expert advice to help businesses discover, interpret and act on emerging opportunities and trends. Click the button above to download a free brochure or to speak to one of our helpful enrollment advisors. Accelerated MBA programs help working professionals advance their careers without leaving work. Ask for the financial performance of all companies for which the candidate has managed the finance team.Controllers, especially those for larger companies, have a wider focus than simply accounting protocol. Many have a Master of Business Administration or another advanced degree in finance. Since cost of living varies by state, prospective controllers should carefully consider the quality of life they can afford based on projected salary and living expenses. Some of the most lucrative cities for the business and accounting industry carry steep housing, utilities, and transportation costs. Explore the following information on how average salary changes with experience.The comptroller title may be considered to represent a slightly more senior-level management position than the controller title. However, this does not mean that there would be a controller position that reports to a comptroller.Sometimes bookkeepers aren’t able to identify the root cause of inaccurate numbers or develop a solution to remedy the situation. You may need help deciding which metrics matter most and how to track them. If an organization is publicly held, these positions are also expected to produce a number of additional public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Maintains a chart of accounts and general ledger, from which are compiled a set of financial statements.