'Finance Controller' is explained in detail and with examples in the Corporate Finance edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.
A Finance Controller turns out to be an employee who carries the responsibility for the higher level accounting, financial activities, and managerial accounting for a given firm. Such an employee will usually report to his or her supervisor the company CFO Chief Financial Officer. In smaller corporations and companies, the two positions may be one and the same. There are many important duties for these controllers. Among them are overseeing the duties of financial reporting, preparing the de facto operating budgets, and handling all critical affairs pertaining to payroll and many times staff development and continuing education.
It is a natural fact that controller duties and jobs will be different from one firm to the next because of the complexity, nature, and size of the particular firm and its industry as well. Some firms for example call their Financial Controllers comptrollers. This tends to be more of a senior position which is most typical in not for profit organizations and government departments. Naturally small firms will expect their controllers to wear more hats, while at bigger and multinational firms; they can delegate even some of the controller functions out to a broad spectrum of finance people, such as the Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer.
Financial reporting and auditing are critical functions and duties of many Financial Controllers. They are typically the point man responsible for keeping a close eye on the day to day financial condition of the firm. This position will work closely with the company or corporation’s external auditors to be sure that the correct standardized reporting is being done. Controllers also set up, monitor, and even enforce the internal controls on financial reporting aspects. With the mega publically traded firms, the controllers often receive the thankless but essential task of handling the company’s all-important quarterly public filings with the SEC.
A second important duty for the Finance Controller centers on the crucial role of budgeting for a firm. He or she will be expected to prepare the budget for the corporation and then to go through the important schedules for budgeting with the various departments and members of the organization in question. This will necessarily involve the collecting, analyzing, and consolidating of all relevant financial information on the company. The controller may not be the one who is ultimately tasked with maintaining the yearly budget, yet the position certainly monitors for discrepancy, investigates unexpected deficiencies, and summarizes trends of the finances within the firm. It will be the controller tasked with reporting any meaningful variances on the annual budget or expenditures to the upper level echelons of management on the board.
Besides these important roles, many financial controllers will also be expected to monitor any changes coming out or new legislation in the offing which may materially affect the company operations and their particular tax situation. Among the jobs in this category is to look for future risks while making sure that all necessary licenses, permits, and requirements for operating are attained. This is more than just filing crucial mandatory financial reports. The controller can also expect to handle tax preparation tasks like actually filing for federal and state taxes as well as various industry duties and taxes.
Finance Controllers also handle the development of staff from time to time. This might involve hiring, recruiting, and even training of some staff. It will require the person be able to appraise a result done in a job, delegating disciplinary actions when required and leading various employees or even temporarily small departments as necessity dictates. The controller will often be responsible for the company educational programs such as continuing professional educational requirements which are offered in the form of webinars, seminars, conferences, and other training events off site.