Difference Between a Controller and a Comptroller (With Table)

There are different posts and jobs for handling the financial activities of a firm or organization. Proper knowledge about these is required as only then can you apply and be qualified for them. An example of this can be Controller and a Comptroller; both of them are associated with the finances of an organization. Both of them are similar to each other in terms of their roles and other things. Despite their similarities, they are different in several terms that are important to understand.

Controller vs Comptroller

The difference between Controller and Comptroller is that controller work in a private firm or non-profit organization whereas Comptroller works in a public organization. The job of the comptroller is vast and includes more work as he is responsible for the action of more people while the controller has to answer for his actions only also controller is not answerable to taxpayers as like comptroller. The controller does not have to worry much about the expenses going over the limit of the budget decided. They also differ in terms of the things they have to take care of and the work they are responsible for.

A controller is a person responsible for all activities related to money and finances. He is responsible for all the decisions related to the accounts and financial well-being of the organization. A controller has to answer to the shareholders and management of the organization for his decisions. He has to take care of all the laws. He is not responsible for anyone else but himself.

Comptroller is also a person responsible for financial related decisions and accountancy of the public organization. He is responsible for the analysis of finance and financial reports and interpretation of these reports, etc. Along with stakeholders and management, he also has to answer to the taxpayers for his decisions and activities. He has to make sure the expenses of the organization are covered in a budget only. He also has to make sure of the decisions and work done by his team.

Comparison Table Between a Controller and a Comptroller

Parameters of ComparisonControllerComptroller
Works forPrivate or non-profit organizationsGovernment sector
Responsible forFinancial well beingAnalysis, reporting, interpretation of finances.
Answerable toShareholders and managementAlso to taxpayers.
Takes care ofLaws related to finances and money matter.Laws and expenses too.
ConcernsManagement and stakeholdersHis and his team work and actions.

What is a Controller?

A controller is responsible for planning the budget for operating activities, supervising financial statements, and taking care of the payrolls of the employees. Along with this, he is also responsible for gathering, consolidating, analyzing the financial data of the organization. The roles of a controller depend upon the size and type of organization. But most of the organization looks for a flexible and versatile controller.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Serves as supervisor of the financial health of the organization.
  • Engaging in hiring, training, and selection of workers.
  • Leading employees.
  • Checking books of accounts.
  • Providing professional training.
  • Meeting tax, permits, and licensing requirements.
  • Making sure laws are followed properly.

The controller provides several advantages to the organizational profit and growth. An organization can only work smoothly if the finances are managed properly, and expenses are bear with the minimum cost under the budget. Also, it is important to guide new people in the organization to make sure they understand work. All this is possible if the controller of the organization is working properly.

In the absence of a controller, an organization cannot work properly. For example, if no controller will make sure the financial and monetary laws are being followed.

What is a Comptroller?

Comptroller is a person who oversees the accounts of a company and is a senior-level executive in management. Following are the roles and responsibilities of a comptroller:

  • Take care of funding plans, variance analysis, and budgets.
  • Internal audit of staff.
  • To make sure financial statements of the organization are prepared as per the generally accepted policies and accounting standards.
  • Controls treasury.
  • Report to the CEO with all the financial-related matters or decisions.
  • Raising funds for the company.

Types of Comptroller

  1. In business: check the finances and accounts.
  2. In non-profit organizations: supervise accounts, record all donations and expenses properly, report to the board of directors.
  3. In government: role depends upon the nature of the organization.

Being a comptroller is a difficult job. He needs to be perfect in accounts and their principles, and he should also know how to manage the team and multi-taking. They are responsible for the accuracy of financial reporting, and therefore, it is not an easy job.

He the comptroller of an organization is working best, it will eventually result in exceeding profits and growth of the organization. And in the case of a non-profit organization, more funds could be raised by him.

Main Differences Between a Controller and a Comptroller

  1. Both Controller and Comptroller are related to finances indeed, but they differ in terms of the organization they work for, controller work in a non-profit or private organization, whereas the comptroller work under the government sector for public and non-profit organizations.
  2. Both of them are responsible for several activities and work. The controller is mainly responsible for making sure the organization is doing good in finances, whereas the comptroller is responsible for that different processes such as analysis, reporting, interpretation, of finances, is going on properly without any mistake.
  3. Both of them are answerable to different people. The controller is answerable for their actions to the shareholder and management of the organization, whereas the comptroller is answerable to more people; he has to justify his actions to shareholders, management, and also taxpayers as well.
  4. They also differ in terms of laws and other activities they have to take care of, controller have to take care of laws related to the financial and monetary matter at state, local and federal level whereas comptroller has to take care of both financial and monetary laws, but with this, they have to take care of the expenses, that they should not go beyond the decided budget.
  5. Last but not least, they are different in terms of their main concerns. The controller is concerned for the stakeholders and management. He has to deal with reporting and analysis of finances and make sure there is no mistake, whereas the comptroller is not only responsible for his actions but also the actions of his team, therefore if any member of his team commits mistakes, the comptroller will be accountable for the same.

Conclusion 

Therefore, there should not be any confusion between either of these. Both of them are similar as they are related to the financial duties of checking the accountants and involving in the highest level of accounting and financial needs. They are important as if these financial or accounting needs are not understood at the correct time, it can lead to big problems and chaos. Also, if accountants are not checked regularly, they can make mistakes in accounts of the company, again causing huge problems.

If you are applying for any of these roles, it is better to understand their needs and qualifications that should be clear with all the above information.

References 

  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/89b4fd68fe5934f137123858f22804bd/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=26015
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/abaj20&section=33
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