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What does an Assistant Controller do?

By Licia Morrow
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An assistant controller reports directly to the controller of a company and performs a wide variety of job duties depending upon the size of the organization. As the controller is responsible for the accounting department, this assistant financial worker manages many aspects of the financial process as well. An assistant controller might supervise many areas, including payroll, receivables, taxes and audits.

The financial department in a company is responsible for tracking and analyzing company profits and expenditures, and the assistant controller often spends much time performing this function. An assistant of this type may issue and track customer invoices, obtain payment from clients, and manage collections. He may also manage the budget for a specific department or location, or for the entire company. He might be in charge of the general ledger which traces and records a company's assets and income.

This job might have many general duties associated with it. This financial expert will often maintain the company's bank accounts and analyze purchasing and profit margins. An assistant controller will work closely with the controller and other members of management to ensure good accounting practices by developing rules and procedures for others to follow.

An assistant to the controller who works primarily in financial reporting is responsible for communicating financial information to others within the company and sometimes to clients or outside organizations. A financial reporter will submit detailed reports and analysis to the board of directors, owner of a company, or governmental agencies which require information on a company's finances. An assistant controller will often be in charge of creating monthly reports and tracking inventory.

Another main function of this job is the tracking and management of the payroll process. A person in this position may be responsible for calculating payable hours and commissions for employees, as well as issuing paychecks and maintaining the payroll budget. In larger companies, an assistant controller may supervise a staff of employees who perform data entry and payroll duties, or he may do these functions himself in the case of a smaller establishment.

This position also requires an individual to work with taxes. When a company must submit financial records, as in the case of an audit, an assistant controller is usually a main component of the process. He may be responsible for gathering information and reports, communicating and planning with the management team, and performing presentations for others. Additionally, he may complete and submit tax forms on a routine basis.

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Discussion Comments
By Charred — On Oct 21, 2011

@hamje32 - I don’t think they are the same. For one thing, in terms of educational requirements I believe that you only need two years and an associate’s degree to work as an accounting clerk.

In terms of responsibilities, you would mainly be doing bookkeeping from what I understand. It doesn’t carry the weight or gravity that an assistant controller position would require and you certainly wouldn’t be authorized to issue paychecks or do any kind of tax accounting.

I put the assistant controller and controller on nearly equal footing, actually. I don’t view one as inferior to the other, whereas the accounting clerk is clearly a subordinate and lesser role.

By hamje32 — On Oct 21, 2011

@David09 - The assistant controller sounds similar to the accounting clerk in his job functions. I wonder what the differences are, or if these are two different names for the same function?

By David09 — On Oct 20, 2011

In any assistant controller job description that I’ve seen there is a big emphasis on the automation aspects of the business. The assistant controller needs to know software and hardware and is responsible for ensuring the data integrity of the financial data.

I know you don’t have to work in information technology to do well in this position, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some familiarity with computers and software I would think.

You would need to know how to be proficient with accounting programs in order to generate end of cycle accounting reports for the financial controller in the organization.

By Misscoco — On Oct 20, 2011

@B707 - To each his own. I'm with you on not wanting a job where you had to stare at numbers all day. I have a brother-in-law who is an assistant controller for a medium-sized company. He likes his job. He says he is always busy - never a lull, which he likes.

He has liked doing math since he was very young and is just comfortable in the job. He likes the part of the job where he does the work himself. And he doesn't especially like managing other people and monitoring to make sure they do a good job. But he is paid well and has good benefits.

By B707 — On Oct 19, 2011

You will usually find assistant controller job opportunities in a fairly large company. Depending on how many support workers he has, he may have a whole lot of varied duties he must perform.

He needs to have a lot of accounting training and experience, and also knowledge of taxes. I would think he would need to be very detailed oriented, and also be able to communicate well with others.

Even though he probably wouldn't do the actual payroll for the company, it is his responsibility to see that it is done right.

I see a lot of pressure and stress in this job. Working with numbers all day would drive me crazy - I think I would pass on this job.

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