what is a controller?

Controllers are senior-level executives who work as the heads of accounting. Your job is to oversee the preparation of financial reports, including income statements and balance sheets. Controllers are also responsible for ensuring accurate ledgers, tracking money coming into the company and eliminating any mistakes. Banks, government agencies and large corporations employ controllers.

Financial controllers work closely with an organization's budget, audit, accounting and other budget-related departments. You are responsible for producing reports that determine the company's financial outlook over time. You ensure the accurate and timely completion of monthly financial statements. Controllers are also in charge of submitting paperwork to statutory regulatory agencies. This record-keeping promotes honesty, efficiency and accuracy within the company. Companies expect controllers to improve processes within each team to meet reporting deadlines efficiently.

As a controller, you may also be responsible for staff management. However, you could be the only accountant in a small company. You report directly to the president or board of directors to offer insight and provide recommendations for managing the company's budget. When identifying trends for budgets and forecasting purposes, you express ideas in terms that everyone can understand.

Those with analytical mindsets are most likely to succeed in the position. Good controllers are often motivational and flexible in their learning approach. The role may also have an information technology (IT) component and include business development. Your ability to thrive in a challenging role will be reflected in how you respond to unexpected company changes.

Would working as a controller suit your business acumen and analytical mindset? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a controller role.

controller jobs

average controller salary

According to Job Bank, the typical salary of a controller in Canada is $95,000 per year. The earnings fluctuate based on various qualifications and experience. When you are new in the role, you start with a salary of $70,000 annually. The most experienced controllers in Canada take home over $196,919 per year.

how to increase your salary as a controller

Your earnings as a controller depend on your experience and qualifications. When you are new in the role, you start with a low salary since you have minimal experience. As you improve your expertise and qualifications, your salary increases gradually. Having certifications and additional qualifications improves your earning prospects.

The industry you work for may also affect your earnings. For instance, controllers working in investment and finance companies have higher salary expectations. Working in technology companies also improves your earning prospects.

The location also affects your salary. When you work in a large city with a high demand for controllers, you earn a higher salary compared to controllers working in smaller towns. The cost of living in major cities also improves your salary prospects.

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types of controllers

Some types of controllers include:

  • finance controllers: as a financial controller, you lead a team of accountants and oversee day-to-day financial operations. Your job is to run the accounting functions and be in charge of the company's records and books. Apart from analyzing accounting records, you should understand the business operations to provide accurate analysis supporting strategic business decisions.
  • credit controllers: as a credit controller, you analyze the company's available credit and assess the debts in the business. You handle credit assessments, develop payment plans, and keep accurate financial records and repayment terms for each creditor. You also ensure the company receives money from its creditors on time.
woman smiling
woman smiling

working as a controller

Working as a controller involves looking at the bigger picture of the company's financial resources and assisting the management with financial strategy. Let's explore the specific duties and tasks of a controller.


controller skills and education

The educational requirements for becoming a controller in Canada include:

  • university degree: pursue a university degree in computer science, commerce or business administration to gain relevant knowledge for the role. If you want to be a controller in manufacturing companies or another technical field, ensure you gain relevant qualifications for the field.
  • work experience: you require extensive experience to work as a controller. Join entry-level positions and mid-level managerial roles in business services or finance to gain relevant experience. To work as a financial controller, you require a recognized accounting or financial designation, such as a Chartered Professional Accountant or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Additionally, you should apply for membership with a professional accounting institution, like the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.

competencies and characteristics of controllers

Some of the qualities of a controller include:

  • financial acumen: a good controller needs strong financial acumen to interpret and analyze a company's financial data. Financial understanding helps you evaluate a company's financial health and assess the risk of an investment opportunity.
  • problem-solving skills: as a controller, you handle issues that arise while preparing accounting information. With your problem-solving skills, you anticipate risks and find ways to mitigate problems before they escalate. You also assist with process optimization to drive efficiency and save costs.
  • team management and leadership skills: as a controller leading a large team of accounting and finance experts, you should command respect and inspire them to act. With good team management skills, you improve internal efficiencies since everyone's performance is optimal.
  • critical thinking skills: as a controller, you create comprehensive financial plans or operational strategies for various departments. Critical thinking skills help you create the best strategies to meet the organization's objectives.
  • analytical skills: as a controller, you use data from various departments to identify patterns and trends in the company. Your analytical skills help you analyze and interpret data and develop effective strategies.

FAQs about controller jobs

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a controller.


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