Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Controller

Full Definition of Controller

A comptroller or controller (also financial controller, abrv. FC) is a person who supervises accounting and financial reporting within an organization. A controller is an accountant in a business who oversees accounting and the implementation and monitoring of internal controls. In the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, a controller or financial controller is a senior position within most companies, often reporting to a Chief Financial Officer.


The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is a constitutional officer whose office was established under Article 33 of the Constitution of Ireland. The CAG is appointed by the President on the nomination of Dáil Éireann. Based in Dublin Castle, the CAG operates independently of government. The office of the CAG is required to audit spending authorised by the legislature. The current CAG is John Purcell. The office of the CAG deals directly with citizens along with State officials.

The United States / Canada

In addition to its use in businesses, the title of comptroller is held by various government officials. The Comptroller General is the director of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an agency founded in 1921 to ensure the accountability of the federal government. Banks are supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an officer within the federal Department of The Treasury. Several states and local governments (cities, counties, etc.) have comptrollers, variously elected or appointed, with widely varying powers over budgetary and management matters.

United Kingdom

The title of comptroller is also used in British Politics – the Comptroller of the Household is a senior Whip, a senior member of the Royal Household, though his duties in this regard are purely nominal. The Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, however, is a full-time member of the Royal Household. His duties are concerned with the arrangement of ceremonial affairs rather than financial affairs.

The National Audit Office is headed by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

In the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Comptroller is the name for second-most senior Law Officer of the Crown. This corresponds to the office of Deputy Attorney-General in Jersey and other jurisdictions.


The term comptroller evolved in the 15th century through a mix of the Middle English countreroller (someone who checks a copy of scroll, from the French contreroule – scroll copy) and the French compte (“on account”), thus creating a title for a compteroller who specialises in checking financial ledgers.[2][3]

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Controller. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 26, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Controller. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 26, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Controller. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Controller are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 18th April, 2020 | 1 Views.