what is a controller?

Controllers, also known as controllers, are senior-level executives who work as the heads of accounting and oversee the preparation of financial reports, including income statements and balance sheets. They're also responsible for ensuring accurate ledgers for money coming into the company and eliminating any mistakes. Banks, government agencies and large corporations employ controllers.

Financial controllers work closely with an organisation's budget, audit, accounting and other budget-related departments. They are responsible for producing reports that determine the company's financial outlook over time. They have to ensure the accurate and timely completion of monthly financial statements. Controllers are also in charge of submitting paperwork to statutory regulatory agencies. This record-keeping promotes honesty, efficiency and accuracy within the company. Companies expect controllers to improve processes within each team to meet reporting deadlines efficiently.

A controller may also be responsible for staff management. However, the controller could be the only accountant in small companies. They report directly to the president or board of directors to offer insight and provide recommendations for managing the company's budget. When identifying trends for budgets and forecasting purposes, the controller must express ideas in terms that everyone can understand.

Those with analytical mindsets are most likely to succeed in the position. Good controllers are often motivational and flexible in their learning approach. Their role may also have an IT component and include business development. A controller's ability to thrive in a challenging role will be reflected by how they respond to unexpected changes and expectations within the company.

Would working as a controller suit your financial and business acumen? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a controller role.

controller jobs

average salary of a controller

According to ONS, the average salary of a controller in the UK is £29,944 per year. When you are new to the role, your earnings begin at £23,653 annually and increase as you improve your skills and experience. Controllers at the peak of their careers take home £55,382 per year. The compensation package usually includes some allowances and non-monetary benefits. Some companies also offer annual bonuses.

how to increase a controller's salary

As a controller, your compensation package depends on your experience and company size. When you have extensive experience, you can command a higher salary to match the skills and expertise you bring to your employer. Your qualifications also tip the scales when negotiating your salary. When you have extra certifications and a master's degree, you will probably earn more than controllers with a degree.

When you work in a small company, you have lower salary prospects as the company cannot afford to pay more. Besides, your duties may not be complex in a company with a simple financial management policy. In large organisations, your job is specialised due to the complexity of the financial data.

smiling male controller
smiling male controller

types of controllers

Some types of controllers include:

  • finance controller: as a financial controller, you lead a team of accountants overseeing day-to-day financial operations. Your job is to run the accounting functions, and you are in charge of the company's records and books. Apart from analysing the accounting records, you need to understand the business operations to provide accurate analysis that supports strategic business decisions.
  • credit controller: as a credit controller, you analyse the company's available credit and assess the debts in the business. You handle credit assessments, develop payment plans and keep accurate financial records and repayment terms for each creditor. You also ensure the company receives money from its creditors on time.



working as a controller

Working as a controller involves looking at the bigger picture of the company's financial resources and assisting the management with financial strategy. Let's explore the specific duties and tasks of a controller.


controller education and skills

The key steps for becoming a controller include:

  • earning a relevant degree: to become a controller, you need a bachelor's degree in finance, business administration or accounting. The degree equips you with the skills you need to perform various accounting functions. Some employers also require a master's degree since you will be working at a senior level in the company.
  • gaining work experience: you need over five years of experience in financial roles to become a controller. To build your skills, you can gain experience through entry-level accounting and assistant controller roles.
  • licences and certifications: as a controller, you need to meet the requirements of professional certifications to become a Certified Public Accountant or a Certified Financial Analyst. After acquiring the licence, you need to keep it in good standing.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a controller include:

  • financial acumen: a good controller needs strong financial acumen to interpret and analyse the financial data of a company. Financial understanding will help you evaluate a company's financial health and assess an investment opportunity's risks.
  • problem-solving skills: as a controller, you need to handle issues that arise while preparing accounting information. With your problem-solving skills, you can anticipate risks and find ways to mitigate problems before they escalate. You also assist with process optimisation to drive efficiency and save costs.
  • team management and leadership skills: as a controller leading a large team of accounting and finance experts, you need to command respect and inspire them to act. With good team management skills, you improve internal efficiencies since everyone's performance is at an optimal level.
smiling woman controller
smiling woman controller


FAQs about working as a controller

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