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Director Of Finance vs. Controller: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in finance can be both exciting and rewarding. Two common positions in this field are that of a director of finance and a controller. Though these roles share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a director of finance and a controller, and we provide additional finance-related professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is a Director Of Finance?

The Director of Finance is responsible for the financial health of the company. They create and oversee the implementation of the financial strategy, including budgeting, forecasting and financial planning. They also manage the finance team and produce financial reports. The Director of Finance works closely with the CEO and other senior managers to make sure the company is meeting its financial goals. They also liaise with external partners, such as auditors, banks and investors.

What is a Controller?

Controllers are responsible for the financial planning and reporting for their organization. They develop and maintain the systems and controls necessary to produce accurate financial statements. They also prepare budgets and forecasts and monitor actual results against these targets. In addition, controllers may also be responsible for managing the organization’s investment portfolio and cash management activities. Other duties may include tax planning and compliance, risk management, and insurance.

Director Of Finance vs. Controller

Here are the main differences between a director of finance and a controller.

Job Duties

Directors of finance are in charge of the overall financial strategy for their organizations. They develop plans that help them reach the goals they’ve set and make decisions about how to allocate company resources. Controllers are responsible for ensuring that the financial operations of their companies run smoothly. They oversee accounting functions like bookkeeping and data entry, as well as internal and external audits. Both jobs involve a lot of administrative work, but directors of finance spend more time in offices while controllers tend to spend more time in the field.

Job Requirements

The job requirements for a director of finance and controller are very similar. Both positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration or a related field. Additionally, both positions may require certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). To become a CPA, candidates must pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Some states also have additional requirements, such as completing continuing education credits.

Work Environment

Directors of finance typically work in an office environment, but they may travel to meet with clients or vendors. They also spend a lot of time on the phone and emailing people about business matters. Controllers usually work in an office setting, but they may occasionally visit different locations within their company to ensure that employees are following proper procedures.

A controller’s job is more likely to involve sitting at a desk for long periods of time than a director of finance. However, both positions require professionals to be organized and detail-oriented so that they can complete tasks efficiently.


Both directors of finance and controllers use financial skills to perform their jobs. This includes understanding financial statements, budgeting, forecasting and accounting. They also both develop strategies to improve a company’s financial performance and work with other departments within an organization to ensure that these strategies are executed effectively.

However, there are some key differences in the skills that these two professionals use. Directors of finance tend to focus more on long-term planning and strategy, while controllers focus more on day-to-day operations. As a result, directors of finance need to have strong analytical and decision-making skills, while controllers need to be highly organized and have excellent attention to detail.


The average salary for a director of finance is $135,562 per year, while the average salary for a controller is $127,160 per year. Both of these positions may see their salaries vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which they work and their level of experience.


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