Vision, oversight & compliance describe the role of a controller. “Controller” is a heavy word and its role comes with heavy responsibilities in the realm of accounting.
Depending on the size of your business, the controller will work with the business owner, Chief Financial Officer, or President, in ways both large and small. These ways impact both the overall financial vision for the company and drill down to the details as to precisely how that vision will be achieved.
Here are five parts of this difficult and complex role
1. Articulate, plan and implement
When your business is just starting, or restructuring, the controller will help you to outline the big financial picture from an accounting perspective along with owners, executives and managers, investors and other stakeholders. This may include setting a formula for how goods and services are priced and how salaries and commissions are set, reported and tracked. Helping you budget, and comparing actual results to budget, is another way the controller can assist with your business planning.
2. Creates, adapts and adopts systems
Whether it’s explaining how software is used, or why imputing receipts and expenses within a specific time period is important, the controller oversees the habits and systems that track and report details of incoming and outgoing receipts. These are details that will ultimately measure your company’s financial success. The quality of the information these systems communicate impacts how the accounting teams can work for you. The controller will ensure the systems in place are appropriate to the size and operations of your enterprise.
3. Track, record and report
The controller supervises the accounting team in the same way an editor-in-chief oversees a newsroom. The team tracks all expenses, manages payroll and watches other operational expenses. The team records all the details of all the financial transactions your company undertakes. They then report back on how all these details impact the overall health of the business.
4. Accurate documentation
The controller ensures that reports, audits and other financial documents are prepared on time and with the highest degree of accuracy. They must be clear, concise and complex financial issues must be communicated so that everyone can understand what is happening with the company’s finances and why.
5. Compliance, compliance, compliance!
The heaviness of a controller’s responsibility comes from the weight of laws. Tax law, industry-specific laws, employment law, corporate governance structures, professional ethics and other regulations from a financial perspective can be difficult to understand and follow. The controller is responsible for ensuring that your business’ financial reports comply with all of those laws, expectations and regulations.