controller speaking to coworkers

Have you ever wondered what a controller does in a company or organization? A controller is a vital role within the finance department of a business, responsible for overseeing financial activities, ensuring compliance with accounting regulations, and managing financial risks.

While the role of a controller may seem straightforward, many tasks and responsibilities come with this position. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what a controller does, their day-to-day tasks, and how they contribute to the success of a business. Whether you’re considering a career in finance or just curious about the inner workings of a company, this post will provide valuable insights into the role of a controller.

What is a Controller?

A controller is a senior-level financial professional responsible for the accuracy, reliability, and integrity of an organization’s financial records. They maintain efficient accounting policies and procedures and ensure all financial reporting meets legal standards.

Controllers are typically in charge of setting up budgets, tracking cash flow, analyzing profit and loss statements, and developing financial plans for the future. They also manage staff, review financial documents for accuracy, and handle any discrepancies or problems that arise with finances.

What Skills are Necessary to Become a Controller?

To become a controller, several skills are necessary. Here are some of the essential skills:

  • Accounting knowledge: Controllers must have a solid understanding of accounting principles and practices.
  • Financial analysis: Controllers need to be able to analyze financial data and use it to make informed decisions.
  • Attention to detail: Controllers must be meticulous and detail-oriented, as errors in financial reporting can have serious consequences.
  • Organizational skills: Controllers need to be able to manage their time effectively and prioritize tasks to meet deadlines.
  • Communication skills: Controllers must be able to communicate effectively with employees, vendors, and other stakeholders.
  • Leadership skills: Controllers must be able to lead and motivate their teams to achieve their goals.
  • Strategic thinking: Controllers need to be able to think strategically and develop plans to achieve long-term financial goals.
  • Technology proficiency: Controllers must be proficient in using financial software and other technology tools to manage financial data and reports.
  • Risk management: Controllers need to understand risk management principles and practices.
  • Compliance knowledge: Controllers must be knowledgeable about regulatory compliance requirements and ensure that the organization follows them.

What Education do You Need to Become a Controller?

Most controllers hold a degree in accounting or finance. In addition to their degree, controllers should also have some practical experience. This could be in the form of internships or prior accounting and finance positions.

Certifications for Controllers

While certifications are not a strict requirement for becoming a controller, many employers prefer candidates with specific certifications. Here are some certifications that can be beneficial for aspiring controllers:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): This is one of the most popular and respected certifications for accounting professionals, and many controllers hold this certification.
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA): This certification focuses on management accounting, and covers topics such as financial analysis, budgeting, and risk management.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): While the CFA certification is more geared towards investment professionals, it can also benefit controllers responsible for managing investments and financial portfolios.
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): This certification is focused on internal auditing, and can be helpful for controllers who are responsible for ensuring compliance with internal controls.

Obtaining these certifications can demonstrate to potential employers that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in a controller role. However, it’s important to note that certifications alone do not guarantee success as a controller, and practical experience is also essential.

Interested in Career Opportunities for Controllers?

Contact Burchard and Associates. We help organizations in the St. Louis area and beyond find financial and accounting professionals (including Controllers) for their open positions. Check out our available job opportunities or contact us today to learn how we can help you with your job search.