The person who has the top most responsibility for all accounting and related activities is called a controller. They supervise, help manage the resources and oversee all the accounting processes and has the highest responsibility in the firm for the same. Thus they control access to corporate funds and thus have a very important fiduciary responsibility.
They generally come one level under the CFO or even the CFO might be taking the responsibility of the controller in case of smaller companies. Typically, Treasurer and Controller divide their share of work.
Controller usually takes care of the following activities:
1. Financial Accounting: Preparation of periodic financial statements, daily preparation of journals, Design of transfer pricing systems and methodologies etc.
2. Cost Accounting: Profitability and Pricing responsibility. Preparation of Budgets, Cost supervision, Performance monitoring, etc.
3. Taxes: Oversee Regulatory requirements for tax and other compliances
4. Data Processing: Corporate accounting and Payroll activities
At a Government level, Controller acts as the CFO of a public body. Comptroller General, Comptroller Auditor General are very common in many Commonwealth countries. These are equivalent to a Controller of a company. They act as an external auditor for Government spending and operations of State held enterprises. They are known to provide honest and unbiased opinions on the financial position and fairness in transactions of the governments and government-owned companies.
With the changing regulatory environment and the onset of Sarbanes-Oxley reforms, Basel-III reforms, IFRS convergence, increasing Corporate Governance and Shareholder activism, increasing Globalisation of businesses effectively means that the role of financial controllers is becoming more and more vital day by day.