What is a Comptroller

Comptroller, in the United States, is a title given to controllers who oversee the accounting operations and financial reporting procedures of government agencies, non-profit organizations and some businesses.


Comptrollers, as the equivalent of a chief financial officer in non-profit organizations and government bodies, perform a similar role to controllers – though comptrollers are considered to be slightly senior to controllers. In businesses that have comptrollers, the position reports to the chief financial officer or, in smaller organizations, the president or chief executive officer.

Comptroller Responsibilities

Comptrollers manage the accounting staff and maintain a system of internal controls to ensure that funds are used appropriately. They manage the processing of all accounting transactions, and countersign expenditures and receipts, including billings, accounts payable and receivable, payroll, collections and cash receipts. In this capacity, they also manage budgets and secure loans.

Comptrollers maintain the general ledger and ensure that the financial statements are accurate and comply with proper format and standards. They are also effectively the chief audit executive, overseeing internal audits and assisting with external audits.

Comptroller Degrees and Certifications

Like controllers, comptrollers will have a bachelor’s degree in accounting at a minimum. They will also, typically be a Certified Public Accountant, or possess a certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst or Certified Management Accountant. Advanced certification options for comptrollers include Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Government Financial Manager.

Comptroller Professional Organizations

The professional organizations comptroller might belong to are the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Accounting Association or the Institute of Management Accountants.