Finance controllers have knowledge of all aspects of a company's finances. For example, someone in this job does tasks such as preparing financial statements, budget reports, forecasts, cost analysis reports, profit or loss statements, and SEC reports, as well as making recommendations for spending or cost cuts and supervising other accountants in the company. The controller also makes certain that the financial books are prepared accurately, that all aspects of the company's finances are properly documented, that any money that is due to the company is collected, and that any company expenses are paid.
In addition, the finance controller will also provide financial analysis and advice to the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company at any time it is involved in business transactions or acquisitions. In some cases, controllers may provide legal advice as well, since many have law degrees in addition to their certified public accounting (CPA) credentials. Having had both accounting experience and legal experience means that this finance professional can often see multiple perspectives of a business deal, and that he can be a very useful adviser for the CEO.
Individuals in this role do a significant amount of computer work as part of the job. For example, accountants typically use special software to help them to keep financial records and prepare accounting reports. Controllers typically use budget software, forecasting software, and other specialized tools to do their job. Software is often updated yearly, which means that controllers may spend a significant amount of time keeping pace with new information.
There are various career paths that a finance controller could take. For instance, after gaining experience in this role, it is possible for someone to be promoted into higher positions, such as vice president of finance operation or even chief executive officer. The person could also go back to school to get a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree in accounting to become a college accounting professor. By contrast, if he wanted to stay in the business world but not as an accountant, he could find work as a recruiter in a third-party staffing firm that specializes in recruiting accountants for companies.