What is the Role of a Controller and Does Your Business Need One?


With so many different accounting roles within a business, it can be difficult to distinguish the duties of each. Here we take a look at the role of a controller to help you assess the need for this function within your business.

What does a Controller do?

A financial controller is typically responsible for the holistic accounting functions within a business. This doesn’t mean that the controller will necessarily perform each function, they might need someone who is closer to the business operations to carry out the duty, while they manage each step to ensure accurate ledgers within a business that comply with GAAP guidelines. The role of a controller can be thought of as a high-level post within the accounting division that ties all of the outputs of other accounting functions. The greatest benefit of a controller is its strategic role as the go-between the finance division and a business’s senior management.

Some of the key services performed by an outsourced controller include the following:
  • Closing entries to reset the balances on temporary accounts (which show balances over a single accounting period) to become permanent accounts within the balance sheet, as a way of including all accounts in your business’s long-term financial records, giving a more accurate and comprehensive view of the finances.

  • Reviewing of financials allows you to better understand the financial health of your business as financial statements give insight into operations and cash flow.

  • Top-down budgeting takes the burden off of lower management to create a budget on their own, saving time and resources.

  • Providing work supervision of finance teams to ensure that everyone understands account statuses in an effort to reduce errors.

  • Adjusting entry preparation as required to ensure that your financial statements reflect accurate data.

  • Preparing final financial statements to provide necessary insights into revenue, expenses, profitability, debt load, and cash flow within your business.

  • Working with the businesses to ensure accurate and timeous tax filing so that your business remains tax-compliant and in good standing with the IRS.

  • Overseeing accruals and prepaid transactions, and more – play a crucial role in your records of current liabilities and current assets and are imperative to an accurate financial overview of your business.

In many instances, the functions of a controller may be considered on par with that of a CFO within a business, as controllers are also equipped to perform high-level business advisory and analysis in terms of forecasting, budgeting, and risk analysis.

When does your business need the services of a controller?

Owners of small businesses often tend to the recordkeeping and accounting needs of their businesses by themselves, but these demands become full-time jobs when the business expands. There is also a great opportunity for error and a mess in accounting when a business does not have a dedicated controller during its time of rapid expansion.

Here are 3 definite signs your business is in need of dedicated controller services:

  • Your business is expanding
  • Your current accounting team seems to lack direction when it comes to handling various accounts within your business. This can often be picked up in constant account-related errors or inconsistencies in accounts payable and accounts receivable systems.
  • Top management and business leaders are spending too much time on accounting-related queries.

Outsourcing controller services

The services of a controller will help alleviate some of the financial challenges by creating smooth processes to ensure that your business remains in full compliance with local and where necessary, multistate tax obligations.

At Fusion CPA, we offer a host of outsourced accounting services. Whether it be accounting, bookkeeping, or controller services you need, we can help you decide which of the accounting roles your business needs most. You can also outsource a combination of these functions to our accounting experts, who have years of experience and expertise across different industries.

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This blog article is not intended to be the rendering of legal, accounting, tax advice or other professional services. Articles are based on current or proposed tax rules at the time they are written and older posts are not updated for tax rule changes. We expressly disclaim all liability in regard to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this blog as well as the use or interpretation of this information. Information provided on this website is not all-inclusive and such information should not be relied upon as being all-inclusive.