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    Controller Job Description


    Position Description: Controller

    Comments: The content of the following job description is based on the assumption that a controller has adequate support staff to handle day-to-day accounting transactions, leaving the controller in the role of managing the accounting department. If this is not the case, and especially if the controller is the only person in the accounting department, it is likely that the controller is really fulfilling the role of a bookkeeper. See the bookkeeper job description for more information.

    Basic Function: The controller position is accountable for the accounting operations of the company, to include the production of periodic financial reports, maintenance of an adequate system of accounting records, and a comprehensive set of controls and budgets designed to mitigate risk, enhance the accuracy of the company's reported financial results, and ensure that reported results comply with generally accepted accounting principles or international financial reporting standards.

    The scope of the controller position is much larger in a small business, where the position is also responsible for cash management and risk management. In a larger company, these added responsibilities are shifted to a treasurer and chief financial officer, respectively.

    A variation on the controller title is the comptroller, which generally implies a more senior position, and which is more commonly found in government and non-profit entities.

    Principal Accountabilities:

    Management

    1. Maintain a documented system of accounting policies and procedures
    2. Manage outsourced functions
    3. Oversee the operations of the accounting department, including the design of an organizational structure adequate for achieving the department's goals and objectives
    4. Oversee the accounting operations of subsidiary corporations, especially their control systems, transaction-processing operations, and policies and procedures.

    Transactions

    1. Ensure that accounts payable are paid in a timely manner
    2. Ensure that all reasonable discounts are taken on accounts payable
    3. Ensure that accounts receivable are collected promptly
    4. Process payroll in a timely manner
    5. Ensure that periodic bank reconciliations are completed
    6. Ensure that required debt payments are made on a timely basis
    7. Maintain the chart of accounts
    8. Maintain an orderly accounting filing system
    9. Maintain a system of controls over accounting transactions

    Reporting

    1. Issue timely and complete financial statements
    2. Coordinate the preparation of the corporate annual report
    3. Recommend benchmarks against which to measure the performance of company operations
    4. Calculate and issue financial and operating metrics
    5. Manage the production of the annual budget and forecasts
    6. Calculate variances from the budget and report significant issues to management
    7. Provide for a system of management cost reports
    8. Provide financial analyses as needed, in particular for capital investments, pricing decisions, and contract negotiations

    Compliance

    1. Coordinate the provision of information to external auditors for the annual audit
    2. Monitor debt levels and compliance with debt covenants
    3. Comply with local, state, and federal government reporting requirements and tax filings

    Additional Accountabilities:

    1. If the company is publicly held, then add a requirement to be responsible for the filing of quarterly and annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission
    2. If the company is a small one, then the controller likely assumes the responsibilities of the chief financial officer (CFO). See the CFO job description for more information.

    Desired Qualifications: The controller candidate should have a Bachelor's degree in accounting or business administration, or equivalent business experience and 10+ years of progressively responsible experience for a major company or division of a large corporation.  Preference will be given to candidates with the Certified Public Accountant or Certified Management Accountant designations.

    Working Conditions: Primarily in an office environment. Will be expected to travel as needed to company subsidiaries, as well as to potential acquirees to conduct due diligence. Periodic weekend or evening work is expected.

    Supervises: All accounting staff


    Podcast: Accounting Best Practices podcast discussion of the controller position. Listen Now.