A day in the life of a controller

woman on her computer

In any organization, the controller is the person responsible for overseeing all accounting organizations, an auditing expert in charge of internal accounting controls. Often, for-profit businesses use the term controller, while non-profits and government entities use comptroller.

Sometimes, the word comptroller implies a more senior position, although a company would never have both. For the sake of this article, we’ll generally use controller.


The responsibilities of the controller generally include things like:

  • Managing accounting staff
  • Maintaining a general ledger and/or chart of accounts
  • Maintaining a system of controls to ensure that assets are used appropriately
  • Managing accounting processes and all transactions with a detailed set of policies and procedures
  • Assisting with audits as necessary
  • Producing financial reports
  • Setting budgets
  • Overseeing accounts payable
  • Reporting any fraud, abuse, or waste of company assets

“A controller is the working manager for the accounting department. This person can be someone on the track to becoming CFO. A controller really needs to be a skilled multitasker as well as have highly developed interpersonal communication skills.” - Marco Maranzano, Vice President, Banking.

Although the word comptroller derived from the Middle English countreroller, meaning “one who checks a copy of a scroll,” the role of the modern controller is often to assess and invest in the right financial technology tools for the company. Therefore, the controller must be fairly tech-savvy and capable of evaluating from among various technological choices.

The controller is in charge of the accounting “big picture” and doesn't usually handle day-to-day transactions (although he is ultimately responsible for those who do), so it can be tough to outline what a “typical day in the life” is like. But generally, it will involve a lot of communication with the entire department and company higher-ups, which means plenty of email, phone calls, meetings, and some travel, depending on the size and scope of the company. Usually, the controller reports to the CFO or, in the case where there isn’t a CFO, to the president or CEO of the company, so a typical day will also usually involve some sort of check-in with that supervisor.

Marco Maranzano says, “We have seen salaries for Controllers (at the SVP level) increasing slightly over the past few years with base salaries in New York City ranging from $190-370k.”

Most controllers have a bachelors in accounting, if not a masters in business or accounting, as well as a certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst or Certified Management Accountant. And it’s assumed that any controller will pursue ongoing continuing education in order to keep abreast of changes in banking and compliance legislation.

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In any organization, the controller is the person responsible for overseeing all accounting organizations, an auditing expert in charge of internal accounting controls. 

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For more information, please contact:

Marco Maranzano, Vice President (Banking Operations and Finance)
212 704 9900

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