comptroller versus controller

Generally, the title encompasses a variety of responsibilities, from overseeing accounting and monitoring internal controls to countersigning on expenses and commitments. It’s better to look at experienced accountants (even managers or other senior-level positions) when making comparisons comptroller versus controller 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.

  • A Finance Controller is a professional responsible for preparing a company’s financial reports, which include balance sheets and income statements.
  • Assists both internal and external auditors with their examinations of the company’s financial reports and controls.
  • Some organizations employ both a comptroller and a financial controller.
  • The most common are business controllers and corporate controllers, who handle entire accounting systems for their employers.
  • It is difficult to get into the comptroller role mainly due to the lower availability of opening; very few positions are available nationwide.
  • This includes developing financial plans, overseeing investments, and managing bookkeeping tasks such as accounts payable.

A controller is the person who handles the financial accounts within an organization. They oversee and manage the financial affairs, specifically ensuring accuracy of financial reporting, interpreting data and providing an explanation of findings to the executives of the company. In addition, controllers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with all federal, state and local laws regarding financial and monetary matters.


According to the comptroller job description, a comptroller should have at least a four-year degree in accounting or business administration or equivalent business experience. Beyond that, 10 years of experience in accounting is preferable, showing steadily increasing responsibilities. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant is a major asset to a comptroller career. The controller vs. comptroller difference is much smaller than comptroller vs. vice president.

Is a controller below a CFO?

Finance team hierarchy

The CFO is ultimately the head of the finance department. They're the financial controller's boss, as well as the accountants', financial analysts, and often also the HR and Operations departments. The Financial Controller is more commonly thought of as the chief accountant.

Because they are responsible for the accuracy of financial reporting, they occupy a position that carries a high level of accountability. At smaller companies, the same individual might act as both controller and CFO. However, in large organizations where these roles are separated, the CFO determines company financial strategy, and the controller focuses on accounting activities and reports to the CFO. A controller reports to the CFO, while the CFO reports directly to the company’s chief executive officer. The CFO has to observe every financial aspect of the company and know how they affect and relate to the accounting systems. If the company faces financial risks, the CFO’s job is to know the risks and recommend whether to take them.

Controller vs. Comptroller

Banks are supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an officer within the federal Department of The Treasury. The Comptroller and City Solicitor is one of the High Officers of the City of London Corporation, responsible for provision of all legal services. The post of comptroller dates from 1311, and that of City Solicitor from 1544; the two were amalgamated in 1945.

comptroller versus controller

The controller typically manages accounting operations such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, billing, revenue recognition, cost accounting, risk assessment, inventory accounting, and tax filing. Additionally, the CFO reports to the CEO and is part of the organization’s senior level / executive team. A controller or comptroller oversees the finance department and reports to the CFO. Therefore, controllers typically earn higher salaries than their counterparts in the public sector.

Organizations & Associations

Other important duties include tax accounting, management reporting, and variance analysis, as well as managing both internal and external audits. Controllers oversee the preparation of their organizations’ financial reports. Such reports may include analyses of future expenses or earnings, income statements and balance sheets. Financial controllers typically manage their organizations’ budget, audit and accounting departments, making them high-level financial managers. A comptroller or controller focuses on keeping the company’s accounts and preventing errors or fraud in money handling or bookkeeping.

  • Additionally, controllers perform key leadership and advisory functions.
  • In the early 1400s, it was created from the word “controller” in France, which means a person specialized in financial ledgers.
  • Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances.
  • Controllers typically have a great deal of accounting and business forecasting experience, particularly as it pertains to tax management.
  • A controller or comptroller oversees the finance department and reports to the CFO.
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