Comptroller Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Comptroller, or Financial Controller, is responsible for ensuring an organization remains in good financial standing. Their duties include building financial strategies for a company, creating annual and quarterly budgets and overseeing employees’ payroll processes.

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Comptroller Duties and Responsibilities

A Comptroller performs a number of important duties within a company. Their overall responsibility is the smooth running of the business from a financial perspective. This means making sure there are strategies and controls in place to keep the business in good fiscal health, as well as making sure each employee involved in accounting performs to those standards. The Comptroller is also responsible for conducting internal control audits to be sure the business is in compliance with legal and ethical business practices. Other responsibilities include:

  • Managing the company’s financial transactions
  • Developing plans for the company’s financial growth
  • Preparing the company’s financial reports
  • Taking part in the budgeting process
  • Managing the company’s accounting employees
  • Providing financial training to employees when needed
  • Evaluating and managing financial risk
  • Preparing income statements
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Comptroller Job Description Examples

What Does a Comptroller Do?

Comptrollers work in executive-level supervisory positions typically within the financial or accounting departments of a company. They’re often in charge of building financial budgets for an organization and delegating tasks to their employees to implement these new financial and budget changes. 

They’ll analyze the progress of these financial updates by reviewing the statistics and results after putting these new financial plans in place and will adjust these strategies accordingly. Comptrollers also prepare a presentation of the company’s financial status and progress and deliver this to the executive team for feedback and reviews.

Comptroller Skills and Qualifications

A successful Comptroller candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications necessary to fulfill the job requirements. You are looking for someone with strong analytical and problem-solving skills and an excellent understanding of business and accounting concepts. A high-quality candidate should also have proven leadership ability and experience in management. Interpersonal skills are desirable since the Comptroller will interact with employees and executive management. Other skills and qualifications include:

  • Exceptional numerical ability
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Experience with spreadsheet and financial analysis software
  • Good communication skills
  • Attention to detail coupled with patience and tenacity
  • Knowledge of regulatory and other financial standards and requirements
  • Understanding of taxation, payroll and other fiscal aspects of a business
  • Experience conducting audits

Comptroller Salary Expectations

The average Comptroller salary is $67,934 per year. Experience and education play a significant role in how much Comptrollers earn. There are certifications available to Comptrollers that can enhance their desirability and affect their salary. In the public sector, the Comptroller’s pay is above the average in the private sector.

Comptroller Education and Training Requirements

Comptrollers usually have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business administration. This provides them with a foundation in economics, business law, taxation and budget analysis. Some businesses require a master’s degree, either in accounting or an MBA (master of business administration). One way to advance a Comptroller’s career is to pursue certifications. Employers tend to look favorably on candidates with either a CPA (certified public accountant) or a CMA (certified management accountant) certification. Candidates with a CFA (chartered financial analyst) charter are also usually given strong consideration.

Comptroller Experience Requirements

Since Comptroller is a management position, it’s not unusual for you to be looking for someone with significant experience. Successful candidates have not only four to six years of business or finance education, but as many as seven years of accounting experience. During this time they might have worked at a major accounting firm or perhaps worked as a government auditor or performed senior-level accounting work. You are certainly looking for someone with business leadership experience, including a number of years managing a financial team.  

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Frequently asked questions about Comptrollers


Do Comptrollers have different responsibilities in different industries?

There are many different industries a Comptroller can work in where they’ll typically hold similar responsibilities. Some of them work in for-profit businesses or corporations helping them improve their cash flow and increase their profits. These are more commonly known as Controllers. 

Employees who work for nonprofits or government entities are regularly called Comptrollers, but both titles can be used for either role. Those who work in a government or nonprofit setting work more closely with gaining funds and building budgets to ensure a majority of the organization’s earnings are going toward its designated purpose.  


Who does a Comptroller report to?

Comptrollers typically report to the Chief Financial Officer of a company. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) typically handles more big-picture financial items within a company, while the Comptroller builds budgets and financial policies and makes day-to-day financial decisions. 

Chief Financial Officers usually work more closely with stakeholders and the board of directors, so they regularly relay any financial company announcements to the Comptroller. The Comptroller may also prepare reports and presentations for the CFO to use when delivering financial updates to the board of directors or stakeholders.  


What makes a good Comptroller?

A great Comptroller possesses advanced knowledge in building budgets and maintaining financial accounts, so it’s best if they have extensive accounting experience. They must also be highly analytical as they constantly review a company’s data and statistics to formulate an effective company budget and financial plan. Comptrollers should also be great at making quick and challenging decisions each day, as much of the important financial decisions rest on them. Their communication and listening abilities must be strong as they regularly collaborate with different departments to evaluate their needs and build an effective financial strategy that best supports all areas of the company.


What's the difference between a Comptroller and an Accountant?

While they both work in the financial departments of organizations, Comptrollers and Accountants hold key differences in their responsibilities. Comptrollers usually oversee the operations of a company’s entire financial or accounting system. 

Accountants often work underneath the direction of Comptrollers, handling smaller bookkeeping tasks that the Comptroller usually assigns them. Many Accountants are in charge of following the budget guidelines and strategies the Comptroller lays out for them and reports any issues or challenges directly to the Comptroller for them to resolve.

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