Non-controller accountants can specialize in many areas.
Forensic accountants for the FBI even go through firearms training. They are much different than a stereotypical calculator-punching accountant.
Accountants may also wear the hat of a bookkeeper or analyze the work of other bookkeepers. In this case, an accountant works to prevent fraud and maintain accuracy for their co-workers, investors, creditors, and regulators.
With such a wide variety of specialties accountants can fill, it is difficult to pin down a specific list of responsibilities. The general job duties of an accountant can include:
Some accountants become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has passed the Uniform CPA examination and has also met additional state certification and experience requirements. CPAs are held to a strict code of professional ethics.
Controllers often supervise bookkeepers, tax managers, credit managers and other accounting staff while reporting directly to the CFO, CEO or business owner. In smaller companies, a controller might be the only financial manager in the company or, they might supervise a team of accountants. They manage their duties with help from a clerk, bookkeeper or administrative assistant. In general, a controller concentrates on accounting and compliance while a CFO focuses on the forward-looking strategy of the organization.
There are a few different types of Controllers.
The CFO or controller is considered a member of the executive staff and plays a critical role in organizing and managing the accounting staff in a company.
While there may be some overlap based on an individual business’s circumstances
a CFO’s responsibilities may include:
A controller’s responsibilities may include:
Again, there are many variables, and the roles change from business to business, and industry to industry.
CFOs and controllers typically have a great deal of accounting and business experience, and tax management knowledge. A CFO may also be expected to lend their expertise on investments, creditor relationships, corporate governance and in other strategic areas.
Many CEOs and business owners are uncomfortable with the quality of financial reporting generated by their accounting department. This discomfort is often based on their concerns about the competency or skills of the accounting team to know the kind of information to provide or how to provide it.
Their concerns include:
One solution is to hire an interim or fractional CFO or controller.
All businesses, from start-up operations to international companies, face similar financial challenges. An interim or fractional CFO or controller can offer sound financial advice and help your organization to improve, analyze, and interpret accounting data. A fractional financial executive provides:
Accountants prepare financial reports to facilitate the analysis on how well the company is doing and keep tabs on a company's money. They ensure the company's financial records are accurate and watch for theft. Some accountants may specialize in a certain area, such as payroll or taxes.
A controller oversees the accounting department and is responsible for its accuracy and timeliness. The controller controls the company's cash flow, oversees the production of financial reports, prepares tax, payroll and debt payments, and ensures the company is in compliance with government reporting requirements.
A CFO focuses on the forward-looking strategy of a business. The CFO provides executive financial insight and expertise to ensure the organization’s ability to reach its goals and long-term financial success.
If you need more time to focus on business growth, need a better understanding of business finances or more control of funds and fewer financial surprises, you should consider a fractional CFO or controller. They will also help you improve business decision-making capabilities, enhance financial controls to increase profit, and improve quality and timeliness of financial information.
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