20+ Difference between CFO and Controller

The chief financial officer and the financial controller share certain responsibilities but do distinct organizational tasks.

To illustrate the key differences, let’s look at the tasks and duties associated with each position. The success of a controller and CFO also depends on the quality of their continuous connection with one another.

Comparison Between CFO And Controller

How they workThe responsibilities of a chief financial officer (CFO) increasingly include the company’s broader long-term and strategic issues. These professionals advise the firm’s executives on how to ensure the continued financial well-being of the business and how to plan for short-, medium-, and long-term growth.Controllers are highly adept tacticians prioritizing accuracy and productivity to fulfill stringent deadlines. Their tasks are constrained to certain times and locations, such as processing payroll once a week or closing the books once a month.
ToneWhen it comes to matters of finances, it is the CFO’s responsibility to be the one who determines the standards and creates the tone for the whole department. The controller is accountable for seeing to it that the plan is carried out by providing direction for the day-to-day activities of subordinates.The controller directs the accounting team and manages the company’s outside CPAs and other financial experts. The controller is responsible for overseeing the chief financial officer (CFO).
Head ofThe chief financial officer often fills the company’s public face role. In addition to negotiating with large banks and suppliers, one of the responsibilities of a chief financial officer is to organize quarterly earnings conference calls.A company’s controller is responsible for representing accounting to the other management of the organization’s many different departments and divisions. They collaborate to ensure that personnel are properly trained and that accounting policies and procedures are followed across the organization.
HiringThe appointment of a Chief Financial Officer is a significant organizational change. Hiring someone for such a strategic position is common when a business owner is ready to expand the firm via mergers and acquisitions (M&A), public and private investment (PI), or introducing new product lines and other growth activities. Such shifts often occur in parallel with increased headcount and firm size, at which point sophisticated predictive modeling, cash-flow forecasting, and expense management become critical.Most businesses will hire a financial controller to ensure that their financial statements are correct and submitted on time while still being by GAAP. It’s possible that a company’s top executive doesn’t have the time or resources to teach a bookkeeper to do these tasks or that they can’t do them themselves.

Major Difference Between CFO And Controller

Who exactly is CFO?

The CFO is responsible for the day-to-day management of the company’s finances and the development of the financial strategy.

The chief financial officer monitors market trends, conducts competitive analyses, and determines the company’s ownership structure.

Budgeting, forecasting, cash flow, mergers, and investments are all forward-looking financial operations that fall within the purview of the CFO. The financial controller, if present, is responsible for the accounting procedures of the past.

Key Difference: CFO

  • The chief financial officer, sometimes known as the CFO, is the highest-ranking financial executive in a corporation and is accountable for its overall financial health.
  • Quite frequently, the Chief Financial Officer will take part in the process of determining expenditure limits.
  • The company’s chief financial officer, often known as the CFO, is connected to the company’s stakeholder management.
  • The Chief Financial Officer’s role is to support the Chief Executive Officer (Chief Executive Officer).
  • It should come as no surprise that the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has a more senior position than the Controller.
  • The CFO is ultimately accountable for all actions taken inside the organization.

Who exactly is Controller?

A company’s accounting functions are under the purview of the controller, an executive position.

A controller’s responsibilities expand to include payroll processing, financial reporting, and assisting the chief financial officer with operational budget preparation in bigger organizations. For more compact organizations, these two tasks may be combined.

Without a chief financial officer, the controller is expected to do various financial duties, from maintaining the books to making long-term plans for the company’s finances.

Key Difference: Controller

  • The controller serves as the company’s top financial officer and is in charge of all aspects of the company’s finances.
  • The controller is the person responsible for operational budgeting.
  • The function of the controller is intrinsically linked to the management of the firm’s processes.
  • This job offers assistance to the Chief Financial Officer of the company.
  • The controller is positioned at a lower position.
  • The command is exercised in every conceivable manner by the controller.

Contrast Between CFO And Controller


  • CFO- The chief financial officer (CFO) is vital in guiding the firm into the future, driving innovation inside the company, and advising key stakeholders on crucial business choices.

    The CFO may achieve the company’s strategic objectives with the help of these methods. One way to evaluate a CFO’s strategic planning skills is by looking at their record of seeing potential threats to a company and implementing sensible countermeasures.
  • Controller- The controller’s main responsibilities are implementing strategies that improve the accounting department’s day-to-day work.

    The controller will use these strategies to improve the company’s accounting processes. To do this, the controller analyzes the company’s spending and searches for methods to cut costs and increase profits.

    One of the primary responsibilities of a financial controller is to devise effective and efficient methods of raising profit margins, boosting staff productivity, and cutting costs.


  • CFO- The role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is an integral component of the wider domain of finance, which encompasses a wide variety of functions, such as financial planning, stock trading, and investment management.

    Even though accounting is sometimes referred to as the “language of business,” chief financial officers (CFOs) do not necessarily need to be certified public accountants (CPAs); chief financial officers (CFOs) have a wide variety of employment options available to them, ranging from investment banking to line management.
  • Controller- Certified public accountants (CPAs) who occupy the controller’s job are accountable for maintaining a high level of knowledge in all elements of financial reporting and compliance with all relevant rules and regulations.

    They are quite particular and specialized in nature. Controllers often hold Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or other relevant credentials.


  • CFO- Financial officers maintain a “heads-up” stance, constantly monitoring markets, economic predictions, and the competitive environment for potential opportunities and dangers.

    In addition, they determine ineffective processes, provide advice, and outline the next steps. CFOs also make predictions and conduct what-if analyses to help businesses anticipate and prepare for future events.
  • Controller- Most of a controller’s day is spent with their heads buried in their job, ensuring that all accounts are properly recorded and that the accounting system runs without hiccups by examining discrepancies and settling debits and credits.

    The main concerns are the outcomes’ reliability and the available data’s accuracy. This position is crucial because it ensures that decision-makers always have access to reliable data and reporting.

Responsible for:

  • CFO- When the chief financial officer (CFO) of a private business is also an executive for a public company, not only are they expected to vouch for the efficacy of the public company’s internal controls, but they are also required to have complete faith in the company’s controllers. This is a criterion that the Chief Financial Officer is responsible for meeting.
  • Controller- If the controllers of a corporation have designed, constructed, and put into operation an effective system of internal controls, and if they are vigilantly monitoring its operation, then the company’s assets will be protected against theft.

    On the other hand, this will only be the case if the people in charge of the firm steal something. As a direct result of this, they have become an essential part of the procedures and practices that are followed inside the business.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How does one climb the ranks to Chief Financial Officer?

The post of chief financial officer is often reserved for those with extensive expertise and a proven record of success.

Chief Financial Officers often have Master’s degrees in finance or the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) accreditation.

Someone with expertise in finance, accounting, or investment banking often holds the chief financial officer position. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) roles are highly sought after and are compensated exceptionally well in today’s job market.

Q2. What’s the difference between a chief executive officer and a chief financial officer?

A CFO is not the same thing as a CEO; they serve different functions. Even though the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the CFO also works closely with other company executives.

The term “C-Suite” is often used to refer to the very top level of a company’s management team. CFOs may report to the CEO, but they are usually the top decision-makers in the Finance division of their companies.

Q3. Which responsibilities fall within the CFO’s purview?

Chief financial officers are the individuals who occupy the most senior financial roles in a corporation.

They are responsible for anticipating the organization’s financial status using the financial and operational data and reports supplied by the finance and accounting teams.

They are also responsible for advising the CEO and board of directors on the organization’s strategic direction.

Q4. What knowledge is necessary for a controller?

In the area of accounting and finance, one of the most important leadership roles is played by the Controller.

To be a controller, you will need to have a solid understanding of accounting concepts and processes, the ability to generate and distribute reports quickly, and the organizational abilities necessary to manage and direct the activities of the accounting department.

Q5. How much money can one expect to earn working as a controller?

A controller is a person in charge of an organization’s accounting department, which is responsible for managing the company’s finances.

Although this vast range is determined by criteria such as experience, firm size, scope of function, sector, and more, the typical controller compensation falls somewhere between $110,000 and $180,000 per year. This wide range is based on the national average.

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