The Difference Between CFOs and Controllers

The CFO and the Controller are distinct financial leadership roles in businesses and organizations. Some growing organizations do not fully understand the differences in these two roles, and therefore, often have a difficult time determining which level of financial leadership the organization requires. In short, CFOs focus on finance and projections, whereas Controllers focus on accounting and bookkeeping.

A CFO serves as an advisor to the executive board of a company. This position oversees the financial, accounting, payroll and tax sectors of a business. CFOs use the accounting information generated by the Controller to analyze how a business is performing, and to create forecasts and financial plans. Effective CFOs should have an understanding of both the operational and financial aspects of a business in order to assess its financial state.

Controllers typically report to the CFO. The Controller of a business leads the accounting department, and is primarily responsible for maintaining a company’s financial records. This role provides the financial statements and reports that CFOs use to evaluate a company’s performance, analyze what has led to a company’s financial state, and determine what needs to be done to allow the company to grow.

CFO Enterprise, LLC is a professional services firm providing part-timeinterim and project Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Controller solutions, in addition to executive search, training and profit enhancement consulting services.