As two job titles that add extreme confusion to the financial services industry, the difference between controller and comptroller is often overlooked, mainly because their spelling and pronunciation are extremely similar to one another, according to The New York Times. Although the two terms are closely related to each other in the finance field and the titles refer to highly trained personnel with similar job responsibilities, there are some important differences that separate their duties into distinct financial functions for the management of various organizations. In order to determine which career title is the better fit for your professional goals, the following will provide a clear outline on how controllers and comptrollers are different from one another.
What is a Controller?
In financial management positions that are responsible for optimizing the financial health of business organizations, controllers are given the hefty task of directing the preparation of financial reports that summarize the company’s position in the marketplace. From income statements to balance sheets and spending reports, controllers often oversee the accounting or budget departments of their organization to take care of all financial accounts. Often referred to as finance controllers in today’s business environment, controllers are typically found working in private organizations to guarantee accuracy in all financial reporting. Controllers prepare financial forecasts, monitor financial details, supervise financial analysts, review company finance reports, and develop solutions to reduce spending costs.
What is a Comptroller?
Comptrollers perform many of the same tasks mentioned above, but these financial managers generally have a higher level of responsibility. Rather than supervising finance staff members on the preparation of financial reports, comptroller’s work begins after the reports have been passed over to the organization’s accountants for review. Comptrollers ensure accounts are prepared according to quality standards, guarantee that legal requirements are met, review company financial reports, analyze current market trends, seek opportunities for expanding in acquiring other companies, and providing advice to executives on making sound financial business moves. Comptrollers are also focused on overseeing budgets to compare how the company’s actual numbers are similar to or different from the amounts budgeted.
Major Differences Between Controllers and Comptrollers
As you can see from the previous job descriptions, the controller and comptroller are responsible for many of the same duties in an organization. However, there are major differences between the two career options that must be addressed. Firstly, controllers are typically hired to work for private or non-profit businesses, whereas comptrollers are almost always employed within government organizations at the local, state, regional, or federal level. Furthermore, comptrollers generally have a higher ranking in the financial industry than controllers with a higher salary potential. While comptrollers are more heavily involved in the organization’s internal costs and profits, controllers are more focused on the costs and profits associated with the final stage of the company’s rendered product or service.
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Controllers and comptrollers are often confused for being the same title because both of these financial managers are involved in managing a company’s financial accounts. After all, both chief financial positions require candidates to have a master’s degree in accounting with 150-hour professional certification as a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), according to the Association for Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business. However, the major difference between controller and comptroller roles lies in the type of organization each one functions and the ranking of their position within their chosen business.