A comptroller is a financial position that may go by other titles as the financial controller, financial control officer or the chief accounting officer. The comptroller is a title commonly used in government accounting positions. An equivalent of the position in the private enterprises is the financial control officer. A comptroller’s job description puts them in charge of the daily accounting tasks and requires him or her to monitor daily financial operations. This position often exists in large organizations, corporations and government department whose daily financial operations are too complex to be handled by basic bookkeeping or accounting.
Responsibilities of a Financial Controller
- Accounting Tasks
A comptroller is responsible for regular accounting tasks in the organization. These tasks include maintaining the payroll, handling accounts payable and receivable, preparing monthly income statements and updating the computerized accounting system. A comptroller also supervises periodic financial audits. If an external auditor does the audit, the comptroller collaborates with the auditor by providing the necessary documents required for the audit to be completed. It is also part of the financial controller job description to comply with local and federal tax filing requirements.
The comptroller provides concrete financial information for the organization to make its future decisions. He or she also provides the financial forecast and a budget for planning. Similarly, this information may be used by the organization to secure a loan.
- Monitoring Function
It is part of the comptroller job description to enhance the financial checks and controls to ensure integrity in financial reporting. He or she also monitors the cash flow within the organization. In addition, the holder of the position monitors the debit and credit and takes charge of the financial compliance functions to ensure compliance with the set financial transaction and reporting regulations. As part of the monitoring function, the comptroller may be required to formulate financial policies and procedures.
Characteristics and Education Requirements of a Comptroller
Essentially, a comptroller should have a degree in accounting. An advanced degree or a masters is preferred. Having a CPA or CMA is an added advantage. He or she should have worked in a financial management position such as an auditor or a financial analyst for at least five years. In addition, a comptroller should have experience in creating financial statements and general ledger functions, knowledge of accounting principles, and ability to use accounting software.
On the personal attributes, a comptroller should have an analytic mind, should work with minimal supervision and should have a critical eye for details. Moreover, he or she should be someone who can work under pressure and on short deadlines. The typical work hours are often well over 40 hours per week, especially at times like tax season.
Comptroller Salary Expectation
The annual salary of a comptroller (and financial management positions at the same level) varies depending on the size of the organization and the level of education of the comptroller. The entry-level comptrollers salary about $45,000 with the highest paid comptrollers earning around $225,509. The median salary by the end of the year 2016 was around $121,750. According to the U.S Bureau of Statistics, the projected growth rate for the position up the year 2026 is around 19 percent, which is higher than the average.