What is the Difference Between a Bookkeeper and a Controller?

The needs of your accounting department are typically dependent on the size of your company. The larger your business is, the more professionals you will need to handle your finances. As your organization grows, the need for both a bookkeeper and a controller may arise to address the daily accounting functions and financial planning. Both professions are vital to an organization, but there are differences between them.   

The Bookkeeper  

Bookkeepers are the foundation for accounting departments. These professionals oversee company financial data and compliance by maintaining accurate books on accounts payable and receivable, payroll, financial entries, and reconciliations.  

Other bookkeepers’ duties include: 

  • Bookkeepers carry out the daily accounting tasks of monthly financial reporting 
  • General ledger entries 
  • Record payments and adjustments  
  • Calculates goods and services tax 
  • Reconciles accounts 
  • Prepares reconciliation reports 
  • And designs and reviews accounting systems. 

Bookkeepers typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. The bookkeeper’s essential skills include analyzing information, data entry skills, attention to detail, and confidentiality.   

The Controller  

The controller is a senior position that oversees a company’s audit, budget and accounting departments. The principal obligation is producing and presenting timely reports for management to make economic predictions and decisions. Controllers advise management on what items on the financial statements mean and offer advice based on the information.  

A Controller is also responsible for: 

  • The creation of policies for the company 
  • Controlling the flow of money within the business 
  • Managing the books 
  • Keeping compliant with taxes and other financial matters 

Controllers typically have degrees in finance, economics, or business. Most controllers are professional accountants with five or more years of experience in accounting.   

The Difference  

Bookkeepers and controllers do work together; however, there are distinctions in their work. A bookkeeper focuses on immediate financial needs. These types of needs include recording, storing, and retrieving financial transactions. Bookkeepers may also oversee your accounting department. Controllers concentrate on long-term financial needs and manage the audit and budget departments. Controllers create and explain financial statements to assist management with strategic planning.   

The Case for Using Both  

It is highly unlikely that you will replace your bookkeeper with a controller. However, you might need a controller in addition to your bookkeeper. If you desire to have your financial team handle a comprehensive accounting strategy beyond day-to-day bookkeeping, you may need a controller. A controller can take your financial data and do more with it, allowing you to make decisions that will help your company grow.   

Hire The Best Accounting and Finance Employees in Dallas 

The professionals at FlexTek specialize in placing experienced candidates in positions that will fully utilize their skills. If your organization needs an experienced bookkeeper, controller, or both, contact FlexTek Resources 

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