The controller and comptroller titles refer to the same position, which is the person responsible for all accounting operations of a business. The controller title is more frequently found in for-profit businesses, while the comptroller title is more commonly found in governmental and non-profit organizations. Given the non-profit and governmental locations in which the comptroller title is more commonly found, there is a greater tendency for the comptroller job position to require a greater emphasis on fund accounting.
The comptroller title may be considered to represent a slightly more senior-level management position than the controller title. However, this does not mean that there would be a controller position that reports to a comptroller. In essence, the titles are mutually exclusive within an organization. Both the controller and comptroller positions report to the chief financial officer (CFO) position, if such a position exists. If there is no CFO (as may be the case in a smaller organization), then these positions report instead to the president or chief executive officer.
Both positions share the following responsibilities:
Manages the entire accounting staff, sometimes using assistant controllers as intermediaries.
Maintains a system of controls to ensure that assets are used appropriately.
Manages the processing of all accounting transactions, which is supported by a detailed set of policies, procedures, and forms. Accounting transactions typically include billings, accounts payable, payroll, collections, and cash receipts.
Assists both internal and external auditors with their examinations of the company's financial reports and controls.