Why Would you Hire a Controller?

The role of a Controller in an organization primarily focuses on overseeing the accounting operations. This includes the production of periodic financial reports, maintenance of an adequate system of accounting records, and a comprehensive set of controls designed to mitigate risk. They enhance the accuracy of the company’s reported financial results. Also they ensure that reported results comply with GAAP or international financial reporting standards. Controllers are pivotal in the financial stewardship of a company, ensuring that it operates with financial integrity and transparency. 

You would hire a Controller for several key reasons: 

  • Financial Reporting and Compliance: To ensure accurate and timely financial statements that comply with legal and regulatory requirements. A Controller’s expertise in financial reporting standards is crucial for maintaining the integrity of financial data. This is essential for internal decision-making and external reporting obligations. 
  • Internal Controls and Risk Management: To establish and maintain an effective internal control framework that safeguards the company’s assets, prevents fraud, and ensures the reliability of financial statements. Controllers play a vital role in identifying potential risks and implementing controls to mitigate these risks. 
  • Budgeting and Forecasting: Although more strategic financial planning may involve a CFO, Controllers are deeply involved in budgeting and forecasting processes, providing critical data and analysis to support financial decisions. They ensure that the company’s financial practices are in line with its strategic objectives and operational budgets. 
  • Cash Management and Treasury Functions: Controllers oversee the management of the company’s cash flow, ensuring that there is sufficient cash on hand to meet operational needs and investment strategies. This includes managing banking relationships, optimizing cash management, and planning for short-term and long-term financial obligations. 
  • Cost Control and Efficiency Improvements: By closely monitoring financial performance and operational costs, Controllers can identify areas where the company can reduce expenses and improve efficiency. This is crucial for maintaining profitability and competitive advantage. 

How much does it cost to hire a Controller? 

The cost of hiring a controller for a small to medium-sized business (SMB) in the United States can vary widely. This can depend on factors such as the industry, the size of the company, the controller’s experience, and the company’s location. Here is salary data and a calculation of an average to give a clearer picture of the expected compensation for a controller in an SMB setting. 

Below is nationwide data gathered from 4 very reputable sources: 

  • Robert Half: $120,000 
  • Payscale: $95,000 
  • Glassdoor: $105,000 
  • Salary.com: $110,000 

The average salary for a controller in an SMB: $107,500. It is important though to recognize that in California this number is often inflated. On average we can say that it will be about 15% higher than the US average which gives you the average base salary of about $123,675 for a controller in California before bonuses, benefits and other expenses. 


In summary, hiring a Controller is essential for managing the accounting and financial reporting functions of a company. They ensure compliance with accounting standards and regulations, managing risks through effective internal controls, and supporting financial planning. This allows them to guide the company’s financial strategy and operational decision-making.