A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization.

In British government, the Comptroller General or Comptroller and Auditor General is in most countries the external auditor of the budget execution of the government and of government-owned companies. Typically, the independent institution headed by the Comptroller General is member of the INTOSAI. In American government, the Comptroller is effectively the Chief Financial Officer of a public body.

In business management, the Comptroller is closer to a Chief Audit Executive, holding a senior role in internal audit functions. Generally, the title encompasses a variety of responsibilities, from overseeing accounting and monitoring internal controls to countersigning on expenses and commitments.



The term comptroller evolved in the 15th century through a blend of the French compte ("an account") and the Middle English countreroller (someone who checks a copy of a scroll, from the French contreroule "counter-roll, scroll copy"), thus creating a title for a compteroller who specializes in checking financial ledgers.[1][2] This etymology explains why the name is pronounced identically to "controller" despite the unique spelling. However, comptroller is often pronounced phonetically in modern times.[3]

Business role

A Comptroller, or Financial Controller, or Financial Control Officer (FCO) is an accounting/audit expert in a business who oversees accounting and the implementation and monitoring of internal controls, independently from the Chief Accountant ("CAO") or the Chief Financial Officer ("CFO"). In the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, a comptroller or financial comptroller is a senior position, reporting to a CFO in companies that have one.

Government role


The title of comptroller is used in the Comptroller of Taxes, who is the head of the Jersey Taxes Office.

United Kingdom

The title of comptroller is used in the Comptroller of the Household, where it is a senior Whip, a senior member of the Royal Household, though its 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. Similarly, the Patent Office, sometimes unofficially known as the UK Intellectual Property Office, is headed by the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.

For Comptroller General and Comptroller and Auditor General, which are typically titles of even higher level government officials (titles of Heads of Supreme Audit Institutions), see the list in Comptroller and Auditor General or in INTOSAI.

United States

The title of comptroller is held by various government officials.

See also

Notes and references

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • comptroller — comp·trol·ler /kən trō lər, kämp ˌtrō / n: the head accounting officer of a company or government Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. comptroller …   Law dictionary

  • comptroller — c.1500, variant of CONTROLLER (Cf. controller), with bad spelling due to influence of unrelated Fr. compte an account, from L. computare …   Etymology dictionary

  • comptroller — ► NOUN ▪ a controller (used in the title of some financial officers). ORIGIN variant of CONTROLLER(Cf. ↑C) …   English terms dictionary

  • comptroller — [kən trō′lər] n. [altered (infl. by Fr compte, an account) < CONTROLLER] CONTROLLER (sense 1, esp. in government usage) comptrollership n …   English World dictionary

  • comptroller — n. a controller (used in the title of some financial officers) (Comptroller and Auditor General). Etymology: var. of controller, by erron. assoc. with count(1), L computus * * * comptroller (kənˈtrəʊlə(r)) An erroneous spelling of controller,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • comptroller — The corporate manager responsible for the firm s accounting activities. Sometimes referred to as the controller (which means the same thing). Bloomberg Financial Dictionary * * * comptroller comp‧trol‧ler [kənˈtrəʊlə, kəmp ǁ ˈtroʊlər] noun… …   Financial and business terms

  • Comptroller — A comptroller is a synonym for financial controller. Comptrollers oversee the financial reporting procedures and methodologies of a corporation. Comptrollers usually are senior members of an organization and tend to have university degrees in… …   Investment dictionary

  • comptroller — n. (AE) the Comptroller General * * * (AE) the Comptroller General …   Combinatory dictionary

  • comptroller — [[t]kəntro͟ʊlə(r)[/t]] comptrollers N COUNT: oft N of n A comptroller is someone who is in charge of the accounts of a business or a government department; used mainly in official titles. ...Robert Clarke, US Comptroller of the Currency. Syn:… …   English dictionary

  • comptroller — UK [kənˈtrəʊlə(r)] / US [kənˈtroʊlər] noun [countable] Word forms comptroller : singular comptroller plural comptrollers formal someone whose job is to look after the financial aspects of an organization …   English dictionary