Controller vs Treasurer: Who Does Your Business Need?
Have you ever been puzzled by the roles of a controller and a treasurer? It's not uncommon to get confused between these two financial managers. They may have similarities, but their unique skill sets and responsibilities make them valuable in distinct ways within an organization.
To help you navigate this decision with ease, we've put together a little breakdown of their roles, responsibilities and most importantly, their differences so it’s easier for you to figure out which of the two professionals meet the specific needs of your business.
Illustrating the Difference between Treasurer vs. Controller
To make it easier for you to understand the differences between the two roles, check out the table below:
Reporting and Interpreting
Evaluating and Consulting
Banking and Custody
Credits and Collections
Appraising the Economy
So, what’s the key difference between the controller vs. treasurer?
To make it short, the key difference lies in their specific areas of expertise and focus. The controller is all about maintaining accurate financial records and ensuring compliance, while the treasurer's focus is on cash flow management, investments and financial decision-making. It's like comparing the meticulous work of an accountant to the strategic mindset of an investment guru.
The Financial Controller
Focus: Inward Transactions, Past Business Activities and Compliance
The Role of Financial Controllers
In essence, a financial controller is the head accountant of the company. They supervise other accountants and oversee the preparation of financial reports, such as income statements and balance sheets.
Financial Controller Responsibilities
In large organizations, the financial controller reports to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). In smaller entities, however, the controller might be assigned as the head of the finance department.
Aside from preparing reports and overseeing the accounting and auditing functions of a business, the controller job description entails monitoring internal controls to lessen risks and create value within the organization.
The controller also takes part in analyzing financial data, as well as preparing budgets. They are also in charge of your tax compliance and see to it that deadlines and regulations are strictly followed.
To fulfill the financial controller responsibilities, one must have a degree in Accounting, Finance, Economics or Business, which is most suitable for this position. A financial controller is also required to be a licensed CPA, with extensive experience in accounting and finance jobs as they will be mainly responsible for financial reporting, analysis and robust internal finance functions.
Focus: Outward Movers Looking Towards the Future of the Business
The Role of a Company Treasurer
The treasurer serves as the protector of a company’s value and finances from financial risks that arise from business activities. Traditionally, a treasurer is under the accounting department, but has now branched out into a new segment which is known as the corporate treasury management.
The Responsibilities of a Company Treasurer
The duties of a treasurer include interacting with shareholders, bankers and current and potential investors. They are primarily responsible for obtaining investment capital and managing the cash flow of the business. They oversee the process of obtaining loans and credit from outside sources. They build and maintain healthy business relationships with banks and raise equity capital. They are responsible for investing company funds and communicating with shareholders. Treasury functions in a company generally involve cash management and making sure that financial goals are met.
A degree in Accounting, Finance, Economics or Business is most suitable for this position. To fulfill the responsibilities of a treasurer, one must have a thorough understanding of various segments of the business and an outstanding ability to communicate with top management and various finance professionals.
The Bottom Line
Overseeing your business finances is important, which is why knowing the differences between controller and treasurer is essential, to help you find out the needs and priorities of your business. Only then will you be able to figure out which of the two to hire. There is also a great possibility that you may need both, so it is important to do a careful assessment of your business goals.
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This article was first published on 09 March 2015 and updated on 04 September 2023. Edited by: Angelica Garcia