Accounting and Financial Controllers Steer the Ship

Published on October 20, 2020

Accounting and financial controllers are some of the hardest-working executives in an organization, but unfortunately, they are often overlooked. There are more than 250,000 controllers in the United States, and 810,000 worldwide, yet CFOs and the C suite seem to get all the media attention. 

Around the world, companies and organizations turn to their controllers for everything from compliance to cash flow, internal controls and closing the books. With nearly a million people with controller job titles worldwide, there are nearly three controllers to every one CFO in the U.S., and more than five-to-one controllers to CFOs worldwide. 

But recently, companies have turned to controllers even more frequently, relying on them to lead business initiatives and deliver on the company vision. According to a 2019 study by Dimensional Research, 95 percent of controllers say their role has become increasingly important and strategic, and over two-thirds characterize the controller as a “risk manager” versus a “number cruncher.” 

As the largest group of accounting and finance executives, controllers have been called upon to lead their organizations in the wake of tumult and change with additional responsibilities in crisis management, human capital, technology, and corporate strategy. 

According to a recent study by the Institute of Management Accountants and Deloitte, more controllers are moving from traditional, month-to-month work toward a role focused on delivering long-term value. Controllers who “step out of the box,” according to the report, are able to bring their unique perspective and unlock new value for their companies. While controllers still spend nearly 70 percent of their time on traditional tasks such as closing the books, or ensuring compliance with accounting standards, many have begun to focus on developing a strategy and helping drive the execution. 

But who is the controller? Where do they work? And how do controllers compare to other accounting and finance titles? The Controllers Council has created the infographic below to show how extensive the controller role is, and why nearly 1 million organizations employing controllers aren’t wrong about this vital role. The infographic displays the common demographics of those in the accounting and finance role, with controllers making up 62 percent of finance leaders in the U.S., and 76 percent worldwide.

Source:  AccountingToday – Daily Briefing - Voices – October 14, 2020)