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CFO vs. Controller: Understanding the Differences

  Arthur F. Rothberg, Managing Director, CFO Edge, LLC  
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  Article Summary  
There are two primary types of financial leadership within top organizations: the CFO and the Controller. Many growing organizations do not have a clear understanding of the two positions, often overlooking the value that a CFO could bring to their business.

This article looks at the differences in skill sets and duties between a CFO and a Controller with an eye to helping determine what level of financial leadership an organization requires. A table identifies and assigns 27 responsibilities to either the CFO or the Controller to support clarification of the differences.

Reviewed is the strategic vs. tactical value that each brings to an organization including the manner by which a CFO acts as a member of and trusted advisor to the executive leadership team. Addressed are CFO strengths in financial areas such as oversight, management, analysis, planning and implementation.

Also mentioned is the manner by which a growing business may engage a part-time or outsourced CFO when it cannot afford or may not require the services of a full-time CFO.

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