Revealed – What Does a Controller Really Do? Best Practice Secrets Highlighted

Once the mission and vision are tweaked, Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and other executives are faced with the issue of implementing the new plan. Often that requires extensive help from accounting or finance. Since a number of CEOs, panel creators, and others ask what is the difference between a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and controller and bookkeeper, you can start with a look at a more detailed definition of a controller.

We will begin with what to expect from the levels of the accounting staff. For the purposes of this discussion, the following will serve as definitions of two of the top players in the accounting department:

Chief Financial Officer -Person who makes the financial statements understandable. This person ranges from a true business partner to a technician.

Controller – Is the working manager for the accounting department. This person ranges from someone on the CFO track to a technician.

Controllers also have highly specialized duties that require a variety of multitasking skills. Again, a person in this position should be able to cover but is not limited to the following tasks:

Controller Duties:

o Manages bookkeeper

o Handles Executive Payroll

o Can sign checks prepared by bookkeeper

o Signs Sales Tax returns

o Creates the more difficult journal entries

o Prepares Financial Statements

o Approves customer credit limits

o Is responsible for payroll processing

o Implements basic financial and accounting systems

o Can coordinate with external Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on tax returns, compilations or audits

o Implements polices and procedures

o Creates non standard reports, including variance reviews

o Handles insurance and risk management with assistance

o Begins safeguarding assets

o Creates budgets

o Inventory overview with assistance

Think of this as a common sense list of how you want to see how this key team member will help you execute strategic programs or processes like: risk management process, enterprise risk management ( ERM), strategic planning, risk assessment, risk management assessment, entire enterprise risk management assessment, operational review, due diligence, or scenario budgeting.

The opportunities you may create from improving your company resources may open up some incredible opportunities for you with competitors whose companies have a weaker management team.

Bottom line? – Risks are what really go wrong when you are not looking: stupid things like bounced checks, losing your best customers or best people when you are blindsided.

You need a perspective of business under the microscope and to have lived to tell the tale. After analyzing and helping over 200 companies, I have learned one key point:”What You Don’t Know About Your Business Can Cost You Your Business.”

From the author of the newly released book, ‘Stick Out Your Balance Sheet & Cough: Best Practices for Long Term Business Health’. Available on Amazon. So open this book and say Profit.

A video of Gary discussing his book is available at

From Gary W Patterson, FiscalDoctor Copyright 2010.

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