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Controller vs Comptroller

See Also:
Controller vs CFO
The Importance of Knowing Your Leadership Competencies
Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

Controller vs Comptroller

What is the difference is between a controller vs comptroller? At the end of the day, the controller vs comptroller relationship is not all too diverse. A controller is a person that is at the highest accounting level in an organization. In other words, he/she is the head of the financial division of a company. Controllers are responsible for the financial accounting reporting, analysis and interpretation to the executive management team. They also administer the internal controls within an organization. A comptroller must possess the same duties of a financial controller. There is not a significant difference in the roles of a controller versus comptroller. A comptroller definition is a senior accountant in a government organization, however, the duties of a comptroller and controller do not differ. However, there seems to be a slight difference between the two entities when examined at a closer level.

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Origins Of Comptroller Vs Controller

Because both definitions seem strikingly similar, why have two terms in the first place? Years ago in the 1800’s, the term “comptroller” arose from a careless misspelling of the term “controller.” At the same time, if one was to examine the etymology of the term “comptroller,” the word itself has French roots that date back to the 15th century. The original English word, countreroller, is a word that means “one who specializes in checking financial ledgers.” From then on, the spelling, along with the duties of a regular controller, stuck and the term “comptroller” became a similar term referring to a financial officer in the government sector.

Controller in the United States

While in the United States, where capitalism seems to have caused a consolidation of the terms controller versus comptroller, it seems that the term “comptroller” seems to have developed a slight difference in the European sector. The difference in question seems to be one involving the expenses involved with products in a company. A comptroller seems to oversee the overall costs that go into the services a company is providing.

On the other hand, the controller is merely concerned with the bottom line; more specifically, the costs that are associated with the final product within a company. Because the controller is more concerned with the bottom line at the end of the day, his job seems to carry a little more weight financially. Therefore, you would most likely pay a person with the title controller more than a comptroller. Though, the amount paid most certainly depends upon the company hiring. If nothing else, the New York Times, when referring to the controller-comptroller relationship states: “the official title controller, in all laws, public records, and documents, be spelled controller, that being historically and etymologically the true and right spelling; and that the false and offensive form ‘comptroller,’ born of ignorance and continued in darkness, be discarded.”

A controller or a comptroller can act as a financial leader in your company. Download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader.

controller vs comptroller

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controller vs comptroller


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Controller Definition

See also:
How to Develop a Controller
How to Hire a CFO Controller
Business Risk
Control Account
Term Loan
Separation Of Duties

Controller Definition

A company controller, defined as the lead auditor and accountant in a company, is an extremely powerful role. Company controllers are in charge with all important accounting measures: policy, procedures, changes, amendments, and leadership of all accounting employees. A company controller, business and nonprofit included, often has the title of CFO. The term controller or comptroller can be used interchangeably although comptroller often infers that the person is a government employee.

Controller Explanation

A controller, explained as the person who provides leadership to every aspect of accounting in a business, has many tasks. Controller duties are to make sure all accounting measures run smoothly and predictably.

(NOTE: Want to take your financial leadership to the next level? Download the 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFO’s. It walks you through steps to accelerate your career in becoming a leader in your company. Get it here!)

A controller of general accounts has many roles in a business. First, the controller organizes the entire accounting strategy for a company. This strategy is essential because it establishes methods such as fifo vs lifo, auditing schedules, overall financial reporting and analysis, and more. The controller position is, essentially, the “CEO” of the accounting that occurs for a business to keep track of operations.

Then, the controller in accounting creates policies that HR must abide by. Timing of expense and income entry, periods which events are reported in, and more. These policies are essential for quality reports.

The controller also decides all of the major accounting issues for a company. Is a certain expense worth the money? Should it be paid for now? All of these are decisions for the company controller.

Controller Example

For example, Danny is the accounting controller for a small business. As one of the most important officers in the business, Danny must create a way to make sense of all of the credits and debits which occur. He must make the tough accounting decisions that no one else is able to make.

Danny must decide, now, on whether an expense is worth the money. His company is considering a distribution center and must choose if opening it is the best option. He must turn this qualitative situation into quantifiable finances.

The plant will be quite expensive. Soon after beginning his analysis Danny comes to a realization; his company can have their product maker drop ship to the customer. With drop shipping, Danny’s company will never have to see the product. Rather than reshipping it, it will be packaged and reshipped by the manufacturer. Danny makes sure this is a good decision by performing a financial calculation.

His calculation finds that, despite the fees for a drop shipping account, his company will save money by using drop shipping through their manufacturer. This provides a simple and cost-saving solution. Danny makes his decision and waits for the kudos he has earned.

controller definition

controller definition

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