What Does a Controller Really Do?
By Gary W. Patterson
June 2010 (SmartPros) CFO vs. Controller - Do you know the difference?
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.
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:
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.
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