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What is the role of a company's controller?

A company's controller is the chief accounting officer and heads the accounting department. The controller is responsible for the company's financial statements, general ledger, cost accounting, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, budgeting, tax compliance, and various special analyses.

At larger companies the controller will supervise accountants and other professionals who assist the controller. The titles of the subordinates could include accounting manager, cost accounting manager, tax manager, accounts payable manager, credit manager, payroll manager, and so on. These managers might be supervising accountants who are supervising accounting clerks.

At smaller companies it is possible that the controller will be the only accountant and will be assisted by an accounting clerk and an accounts payable clerk.

Often the controller reports to the chief financial officer (CFO). However, at small companies the controller might report directly to the president or owner.