Control accounts provide summary balances that are sufficient for analysing financial reports. This simple ‘list of balances’ is used as a record so that companies know how much each customer is due to pay and how much they are due to pay each supplier. Lastly, it’s worth noting that control accounts have a somewhat limited scope. They are primarily designed to consolidate and validate transactions for specific types of accounts like accounts payable or receivable, not all transactions within an organization.

They still need to have the correct financial information needed to prepare the company’s financial statements. Control accounts are clean entries that match overall amounts in more detailed ledgers. The general ledger can have hundreds of accounts from asset and liability accounts to income and expense accounts.


When monitoring your business’s general ledger, you may have an accounts receivable control account. The control account will only show you the accounts receivable balance after all calculations have been done. It will include end amounts for things like total credit sales, collections from customers, and the total amount still owed. Control accounting both helps produce clean financial reports, and provides checks and balances for accurate reconciliation.

  • The ending balance in a control account should always match the ending total for its subsidiary ledger.
  • Large businesses use it to minimize the summary postings in the general ledger.
  • When specific control accounts do not balance, you know that they need to be checked.

Because the control account only reviews the end balance, there is less risk of miscalculation. If your accounts don’t match, it’s likely that the subsidiary ledger has the error. This can happen easily in things like the accounts receivable subsidiary ledger.

Control accounts also underpin sustainability by supporting strategic financial planning. The regular reconciliation of control accounts provides timely and accurate financial data, which aids management in making informed decisions about the company’s future direction. This forward-focused, proactive approach ensures that the organization remains what is a tax preparer financially healthy and agile, further contributing to its overall sustainability. A “control account” is a general ledger account that summarizes and provides a check on the accuracy of all the detailed subsidiary data. It helps ensure individual transaction records are consistent with the overall total amounts in financial statements.

The data is in: RTO policies don’t improve employee performance or company value, but controlling bosses don’t care

As you can see, control accounts drastically clean up the ledger and make it easier for accountants and bookkeepers to use. The primary purpose of a control account is to detect errors in subsidiary ledgers. But they also provide other advantages to a business, such as allowing it to draw its trial balance from the general ledger. Accounting software facilitates accurate data segmentation by automatically categorising data and creating control accounts and sub-ledgers. However, additional control accounts may be necessary depending on the company’s size, type, and industry.

Mitigating Losses from Errors and Fraud

By regaining control of the employees, he said, the managers feel a false sense of control, which makes them feel more secure about their job and their own careers. The discovery of a lack of financial benefit to RTO policies prompted Ma’s team to look into other possible explanations for why managers call their employees back to the office. Accounting learners can get accounting and business analysis certifications from ExamLabs. It’s an online platform to practice your skills, give exams and get certified fast in you field of interest.

Accounts Payable

Here you’ll find specific details like how much a customer still owes, or when purchases were made. The resulting ended balance will still match that of the control, however. The ending balance in a control account should always match the ending total for its subsidiary ledger. If it doesn’t, then there could have been a mistake made during the calculations. “That’s the reason they give — but our results actually do not support these arguments.”

Unintentional errors or intentional fraud can lead to substantial financial losses, which are undeniably detrimental to any organization’s sustainability. Control accounts act as a safeguard against this risk by providing a built-in system for cross-verification. By comparing the balance of the control account with the total of individual customer or supplier accounts, discrepancies can be swiftly detected and rectified. This function not only prevents financial loss, but also enhances accountability and transparency, which are key to sustainable business operations. They serve as a reference point, highlighting the overall picture of numerous economic elements such as sales, purchases, wage expenses, etc.

Control Account Posting Example

The crux of a control account’s role in financial management is to enable easy cross-verification of data. Control accounts ensure balances and transactions align correctly with the detailed entries in corresponding subsidiary accounts. Control accounts work as a summary account, presenting the balance of the subsidiary accounts without including the transaction details.

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