Controller vs CFO: 3 Key Differences

chief accounting officer vs controller

The salary for controllers and CAOs can vary depending on factors such as the company’s size, the industry, location, and experience level. For instance, working for a bank requires additional expertise, such as the most recent FDIC requirements. You must be proficient in accounting software, databases, and project management applications. It is essential to have excellent writing and verbal communication abilities, be at ease presenting presentations, and demonstrate leadership, patience, and organizing skills.

The CPA certification equips controllers with the know-how on financial planning, internal auditing, financial statements, and more. They’re directly responsible for closing the books on time, keeping clean financial records, and usually managing company cash flow. Assistant controllers are normally less experienced and spend more time in the day-to-day minutiae of data collection, regulatory and statutory reporting, and the preparation of particularly challenging journal entries. Anyone with a background in economics, statistics, mathematics, or finance and a basic understanding of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) can perform bookkeeping tasks. However, individuals must possess their CPA license to apply for more senior-level accounting employment.

Maintaining Financial Records

Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. 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. The median annual salary for financial managers—which includes controllers—was $134,180 in 2020 according to BLS data. In some industries, the term “comptroller” indicates an even more senior position and, ostensibly, an even higher salary.

Preparing for a management position as a controller or chief accounting officer (CAO) typically involves a combination of education, experience, and professional development. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is required to become a chief accounting officer. However, specific roles demand a master’s degree, professional experience with accounting, and industry-specific knowledge based on the business for which you work.

Treasury Responsibilities

In conclusion, whether to pursue a management position as a controller or a chief accounting officer (CAO) depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. Controllers create financial statements, budgets, processes, and procedures for a company’s financial management. They work closely with other management team members to ensure that the company’s financial information is accurate, timely, and compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. They are also responsible for monitoring actual performance against budget and identifying and addressing variances.

By participating in this poll, you consent and acknowledge that your responses may be disclosed without attribution by Deloitte in future publications, and you are authorized to respond to the poll on behalf of your company. Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom. Ultimately though,the decision should come down to what makes the most sense for both short-term gains and long-term success in terms of procurement strategies.

What Size Companies Use a Financial Controller?

In other companies, the CAO is a higher level position to whom the Controller reports. A controller’s primary and most commonly understood role is to manage operations of the accounting and finance function and collaboration with all other operating departments. Accountants also provide advice on tax issues and help businesses develop strategies for saving money.

chief accounting officer vs controller

To excel as a controller requires extensive knowledge of finance principles coupled with excellent communication skills. A good controller should possess strong analytical ability to make sense of complex data sets efficiently. NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave chief accounting officer vs controller a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there’s continuity from sales to services to support. CFO Consultants, LLC has the skilled staff, experience, and expertise at a price that delivers value.

Controller vs. Chief Accounting Officer: Which Management Position Suits You Best – Recommended Reading

Accountants of all stripes serve as bookkeepers or analyze the work of other bookkeepers. They work to prevent fraud and maintain accuracy for their co-workers, investors, creditors, and regulators. Many become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and are held to a strict code of professional ethics, not unlike those in the medical industry. This article will help you determine which job fits your skills, knowledge, and other requirements.

chief accounting officer vs controller

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. Controllers are accountable for the design and execution of financial systems and procedures and for preparing financial statements and budgets. They collaborate closely with other management team members to ensure that the organization’s financial information is accurate, timely, and compliant with all applicable rules and regulations.