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Controller


Description

Controllers oversee financial matters in a business or government department. Also called financial managers, controllers develop and implement the financial policies within an organization. They hold senior positions in organizations often overseeing accountants and other financial workers including auditors and budget departments. Their job is to predict and summarize an organization's financial position analyzing income statements, balance sheets, future earning and expenses.

Controllers are top financial experts in their particular industry and perform tasks unique to their organization. For example, controllers in environmental organizations must be knowledgeable about financial practices in that industry and keep up-to-date on the latest news and environmental trends; in other words, be on top of the game. Governmental workers should know all government policies and regulations that will affect both their work, research and the industry in general.

Controllers combine their accounting knowledge and professional management skills to provide employers with a variety of leadership and decision-making services. As a senior member of the management team, they monitor, interpret and communicate financial results and evaluate corporate performance. Their training as accountants allows them the freedom and ability to take upon a wide variety of roles and to move around different areas of business including sales and marketing, information technology and human resources.

Controllers are increasingly hired on a temporary basis as advisors to senior managers, often performing various accounting and auditing functions. The role of the controller is continually changing due to the rapid technological advances in information technology. Computers have significantly reduced the amount of time and work that used to be required of controllers, therefore they now perform more data analysis and financial problem solving.
 
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University of the Southwest

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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$39,120
 
Median Salary:
$73,340
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$142,260

  Interests and Skills  
Controllers are born leaders who can direct and advise others. They are logical, enjoy working both alone and in a team environment, and like solving challenging financial and mathematical problems in innovative ways. In order to be successful, controllers must have solid background knowledge about their specific field and be able to communicate ideas clearly and effectively. Controllers must have high ethical standards and be able to apply their knowledge and skills towards each project they take upon.

Accordingly, controllers should be interested in computers and programming, constantly working on updating their skills to meet the rapidly changing programs. Most controllers enjoy having clear, organized methods in their daily work routines and are generally analytical and practical people.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Prepare and coordinate financial statements, estimates, summaries and other financial analyses and management reports
  • Evaluate financial reporting systems, accounting procedures and investment activities
  • Make recommendations for changes to company procedures, budgets, spending and submit these findings to senior or regional managers
  • Ensure financial recording accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards, procedures and internal controls
  • Develop and maintain cost finding, reporting and internal control procedures
  • Analyze financial statements and reports and provide strategic analysis and decision-making advice
  • Conduct analyses on future earnings and expenses
  • Recruit staff and supervise training programs
  • Controllers generally work in comfortable office settings, often close to top managers or departments that produce data needed for work. They often have direct access to the latest, high quality computer systems and software. Hours of work are constantly changing depending on the organization, level of responsibility and time of the month. Many controllers work long hours, often up to 50 or 60 per week. Longer hours may be required during company budgeting time, month-end deadlines and the early spring tax season with year-end corporate work. Controllers are sometimes required to attend financial and economic meetings and may travel to visit auxiliary firms or to deal with customers.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Controllers are employed in both the public and private sectors. Typical employers include accounting and bookkeeping firms, banks and other financial institutions, governments, insurance companies and educational institutions. A controller is a lucrative part of the management team in an organization focusing on business strategy and strategic decision-making.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Upward movement as a controller will only be based upon level of management. Since the position takes on leadership responsibilities, a controller will advance within the organization to a more senior managerial position and therefore take upon increasing amounts of responsibility. Controllers must keep themselves updated with all computer programs and new software on the market.
 

  Educational Paths  
Controllers require a university degree or college diploma in accounting, business administration, economics, commerce or a related field. Many are accountants and therefore have a proper accounting certification. It is necessary to have many years of accounting, auditing, budgeting and financial planning experience in order to move into this more senior management role. A controller must often complete a company training program.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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