Controller vs CFO

controller vs cfo salary

Controllers, especially those for larger companies, have a wider focus than simply accounting protocol. Many have a Master of Business Administration or another advanced degree in finance. Perhaps the most helpful designation to aspiring controllers is the CMA.

  • There are many reasons small business owners consider beefing up their finance team.
  • Whether you’re interested in diving into the details of a business’s financial state or focusing on high-level decisions, the right education can help propel your career forward.
  • Most accountants become increasingly specialized and narrowed in their career focus over a few years, in part because that helps fuel higher salaries.
  • They also monitor internal controls, handle compliance audits, assist with budgeting and, to a certain degree, analyze financial information.
  • Since it’s a strategic role that requires critical thinking, an accountant needs a broader skillset to grow and become a CFO.
  • Instead of getting bogged down in financial statements and spinning your wheels, look to the future of your expansion by choosing a CFO vs controller.

A CFO is the top financial executive in a firm, responsible for its overall financial strategy. A CFO’s purview covers overall market conditions, competitive analysis — in some cases — and the company’s equity structure. The roles of both the controller and CAO are senior leadership positions, however, as the title implies, the CAO is a business executive and a C-suite officer.

Ramp: A CFO or controller’s best friend

This is most clearly reflected in the CAO’s role in ESG reporting and risk management. The job description for a financial controller and a CFO are eerily similar. A controller is the company’s lead accountant and the one in charge of running day-to-day activities of the accounting department. They maintain accurate financial records and are usually senior managers with lots of accounting experience and responsibility. Within a company, controllers supervise the accounting and auditing departments. They also allocate funds to different projects and departments while maintaining an overall budget for the organization.

controller vs cfo salary

A financial controller is a senior-level executive who acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements. Often holding a CPA, controllers are accounting experts whose skill set and knowledge base revolve primarily around GAAP, tax laws, and financial reporting. Compared to CAOs, controllers’ duties lie within a relatively narrow range. Similarly, CAOs are accounting experts, but the position demands versatility. A CAO may be found preparing an ESG report one week, assisting the CFO on budgeting the next week, and planning for an IPO the next. Lack of “Front-Line” Business Experience – CFOs have business leadership experience.

Key Differences in Salary

Is a trained accountant who has passed the CPA exam and fulfilled all obligatory requirements set forth by their state. Because there’s no national CPA exam, an accountant must apply for and pass the CPA exam in any state where he or she wants to work as a CPA. It’s possible for a CPA to hold certifications in more than one state, but they must be in good standing and follow each state’s requirements for firm mobility. Most states will allow a CPA to provide consulting services from state to state, but performing additional services like auditing or any agreed-upon services would likely require separate licenses for each state.

Apart from this, they are also responsible for monitoring internal controls, carrying out compliance audits, taking part in the budgeting process, and reviewing the financial data at varying depths. The BLS projects the employment of finance managers, which includes controllers, to grow by 17% between 2020 and 2030. This is much faster than the 8% predicted job growth the BLS gives for all professions. Controllers have their fingers on the pulse of the company’s financial health. CFOs develop a company’s business strategies in regards to spending and budgets. As a member of the board, not only are they expected to attend meetings, they should develop policies based on board guidelines.

Does Your Company Need a Controller or a CFO?

In the world of technology and startups, the fast paced environment requires more forward and dynamic thinking. This encompasses investors, growth, expectations, and market outlook, creating the need for a CFO much earlier than before. Controllers may be able to suggest ways to minimize debt, but they don’t understand business risks as much as CFOs do.

controller vs cfo salary

A good controller should be able to talk through processes they’ve established, such as making sure that the monthly closing process is comprehensive and documented. In fact, they may also evaluate and select the technology to be used for accounting or other related functions in the company. Ohio University has a long-standing reputation cfo vs controller for excellence based on the quality of its programs, faculty and alumni. If you are a professional who strives to align with one of the best, you need look no further than the esteemed on-campus and online programs offered at Ohio University. Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an air traffic controller.


Additionally, CFOs make other important policy decisions as members of the executive board, while controllers make sure finical departments are fulfilling the company’s procedures and goals. Both are expected to form relationships with managers, and learning the needs of departments throughout the company as a way of implementing budget decisions in an informed way. In a business, the chief financial officer and controller work closely together. Whenever corporations need a public face for any speaking event, the chief financial officers also step into this role. They can announce new partnerships, discuss implications for security breaches, and provide answers to shareholders on behalf of the CEO and the organization. This role looks at annual revenue to identify the next steps for exponential growth.