Managing the Controllership function is one of the primary responsibilities of the CFO.  In a large corporation, there may be several financial controllers who manage different aspects of the controllership function and report to the CFO or a middle layer of management.  In a lower middle market business, the CFO and Financial Controller role may be combined into one position.  As a company grows, the Financial Controller position is typically the first layer of middle management to be added below the CFO, before a director of FP&A or a director of HR.

The objectives of the Controllership function are to:

  • Safeguard the company’s assets;
  • Track the organizations financial activities and results;
  • Manage billings, accounts receivable & collections, and accounts payable;
  • Handle payroll and taxes (typically in coordination with an external payroll service and tax specialist);
  • Maintain the general ledger, internal controls and cost accounting activities;
  • Work with external auditors to provide the necessary reports and documentation.

With large corporations, the responsibilities associated with each position are usually clearly defined and separated.  In a middle market business, the boundaries of responsibilities are rarely quite so clear and the responsibilities of the Controllership function tend to overlap with those of the director of FP&A, the director of HR and the CFO.  For example, in some organizations, the Financial Controller may handle all aspects of payroll while in other similar organizations, the CFO or the HR department may play a bigger role.  Similarly, budgeting and forecasting may be the domain of the Financial Controller in one organization and the Director of FP&A in other.

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