DEFINITION of 'Comptroller'

A comptroller is a senior member of an organization who oversees the financial reporting procedures and methodologies of a corporation. Comptrollers tend to have university degrees in addition to a financial or accounting designation. An accountant prepares financial statements and passes them to the comptroller to ensure their accuracy and adherence to proper format and standards.

BREAKING DOWN 'Comptroller'

A comptroller is most administratively responsible for daily accounting operations and oversight. A comptroller can work for a corporation, government, nonprofit organization or other business involving financial complexity.

Comptroller Responsibilities

A comptroller oversees internal control audits and facilitates changes to controls when mistakes are detected. Also called a financial controller, chief accounting officer or financial control officer, a comptroller controls cash flow, develops and maintains financial policies and procedures, and creates and completes financial reporting systems. He selects and maintains financial software, oversees payroll and benefits, and adheres to compliance requirements. The comptroller monitors credit and debt, oversees accounts payable and receivable, and manages outsourced financial activities. He completes budgets and expenditures, secures loans and helps mitigate risks. The comptroller works with accounting managers and staff to ensure set procedures are followed, and with financial officers on budgetary and forecasting issues.

Comptroller Degrees and Certifications

A comptroller typically has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a certified public accountant (CPA) or certified managerial accountant (CMA) designation. A CPA designation is earned by passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, having one year of professional work experience and applying for a CPA license. A CMA designation is earned by having two years of professional experience and passing the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) exam. Both CPA and CMA designations require rigorous continuing education (CE). A comptroller may also earn a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or accounting (MACC). An MBA focuses on business strategy, management, human resources, business technology and communication. An MACC focuses on hard accounting and financial management. Further designations such as Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) may also be earned.

Comptroller Professional Organizations

A comptroller may belong to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Accounting Association or the Institute of Management Accountants. These professional organizations provide access to CE through publications, newsletters, forums and networking. Fulfilling CE requirements and networking with financial experts helps a comptroller remain current with laws, fiscal strategies, market trends, technology, information management and global economics.

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