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Reviewed by Annapoorna | Updated on Jun 11, 2021


Who is a Controller?

A controller is a person who is responsible for all accounting-related activities within a business, including high-level corporate accounting, managerial accounting, and finance. A financial controller usually reports to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a company, even though these two roles can be merged in case of smaller companies.

A controller's responsibilities include helping in planning the operating budgets, supervising financial statements, and carrying out essential payroll responsibilities. The controller has many tasks that might consist of budget preparation and outlines important budgeting schedules across an organisation. This includes gathering, analysing, and consolidating financial data.

Although the controller does not always manage the annual budget, the role of the controller is to track variances, analyse patterns, and investigate budget shortfalls. The controller reports to management about the material variances in budgeting or variances in expenditure.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Controller

A controller serves as supervisor to the financial health of a company. Due to the size and scope of the company and the market, controller roles differ across organisations and industries.

A controller in other locations is called a comptroller. A controller is a higher-level job found most often in government or charitable organisations. Smaller companies require a versatile and flexible role for a controller. Whereas, larger firms may look to assign the job duties to other staff, including the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer.

An organisation's controller can engage in hiring, selecting, and training workers. The position involves evaluating job results, leading employees, and carrying out disciplinary measures as required.

The financial controller also retains educational rates through workshops, webinars, or training programs to obtain continuing professional training. In addition to determining the bottom line, controllers are responsible for meeting tax, licensing requirements, and permits.

Qualifications of a Controller

Companies generally allow candidates to hold at least ten years of direct accounting or finance experience when hiring for a controller position. It also requires a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or business management while obtaining a master's degree is not required but desired. Professional qualifications may not be necessary, such as a Chartered Accountant, but are usually preferred.

The controller works with external auditors to ensure correct reporting requirements are used. The controller also establishes, supervises, and enforces internal control over financial statements. The role of public financial reporting is mostly assigned to controllers of listed companies.

A controller tracks potential legislation for the business which impacts its taxation and operations. This duty involves monitoring for potential risk and ensuring that sufficient permits, licenses, or operating conditions are met. Tax reporting responsibilities can be delegated to the controller, along with preparing financial reports, including GST returns, income tax returns, or other statutory compliances.

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