The Three Controllers and When You Need Them

Good employees are the soul of a company. As a business owner, HR manager, or CFO, it’s important to make sure you have great talent on your team, especially in your accounting department. And at the core of your accounting department are the three controllers — the bookkeeper, controller, and corporate controller. 

Here we’ll discuss the roles of each and when you should hire them.


The Bookkeeper’s Role

A bookkeeper is responsible for recording, maintaining, and processing all the basic accounting paperwork for a company. Essentially, a bookkeeper is responsible for the first six steps of the accounting cycle. These are:

  1. Transaction processing: this includes all financial transactions, including invoices, sales revenue, expenses, payroll and remittances, and asset purchases.
  2. Journal entries: bookkeepers record all transactions in your company’s journal.
  3. Managing the general ledger: they then post all the journal entries to the general ledger, which summarizes the transactions.
  4. Preparing the trial balance: at the end of the accounting period, a bookkeeper prepares your company’s trial balance and makes sure the debit and credit account columns match. 
  5. Processing worksheets: if the trial balance totals don’t agree, a bookkeeper makes adjustments and tracks them on a worksheet. 
  6. Adjusting entries: bookkeepers post adjusting entries for accruals and deferrals at the end of each fiscal year. 


When You Should Hire One

Ideally, you should hire a bookkeeper when your company is young and your main focus is to have your financial house in order.


The Controller’s Role

A controller is the senior-level accountant of your company. Controllers oversee the accountants on your team. They’re responsible for:

  • Interpreting financial statements
  • Closing revenue and expense accounts
  • Detecting and preventing accounting errors, fraud, and financial data breaches
  • Ensuring your company complies with tax obligations and financial reporting rules and laws


When You Should Hire One

As your business grows and your accounting processes become more complex, you’ll need more experienced personnel to manage the workflow. If you find you’re hiring financial consultants more often and spending most of a controller’s salary to do so, you should hire an in-house controller. 


The Corporate Controller’s Role

Corporate controllers oversee all accounting functions and processes of your company. They are tasked with: 

  • Reviewing consolidated financials multiple entities
  • Maintaining proper staffing levels across the accounting departments
  • Overseeing financial risk assessments and internal audits 
  • Advising top management on accounting matters


When You Should Hire One

When your company grows to the point of needing several accounting sub-departments, it’s time to hire a corporate controller to oversee them all. You can think of a corporate controller as your in-house accounting adviser who helps you make better accounting decisions while overseeing the bigger picture of your company’s compliance.


Not Sure Whom to Hire? Ask a Business Consultant 

Because the roles of bookkeepers, controllers, and corporate controllers overlap, choosing one over the others may not be straightforward. Do you hire a bookkeeper over a controller or a corporate controller? Ghost Mountain can help you make the right staffing decision, so you hire the professional that your business needs. Reach out to schedule a confidential consultation today.

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