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"Auditor General" redirects here. For other uses, see Auditor General (disambiguation).
"comptroller general" redirects here. For other uses, see comptroller general (disambiguation).

A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization. A financial comptroller is a senior-level executive who acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements.

The comptroller general, auditor general, or comptroller and auditor general is in most commonwealth 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 a member of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (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 often pronounced identically to "controller" despite the distinct spelling. However, comptroller is sometimes pronounced phonetically by those unaware of the word's origins or who wish specifically to avoid confusion with "controller."[3]

Business role[edit]

A comptroller is a person in the business who oversees accounting and the implementation and monitoring of internal controls, independently from the chief financial officer (or CFO). In the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel and Canada, a comptroller or financial comptroller is a senior position, reporting to the CFO in companies that have one.

In business, the title is typically spelled controller,[4] with government organizations only using the spelling comptroller.[5]

Government role[edit]


The Auditor-General of Canada audits federal government spending in Canada; each province and territory has an auditor-general to audit both its own and its cities' spending.

United Kingdom[edit]

The title of comptroller is used in the Royal Household for various offices, including:

  • the Comptroller of the Household (nowadays a sinecure, invariably held by a Government Whip in the House of Commons). The office was established as part of the Wardrobe (a powerful department of household and state) in the 13th century, in order to maintain a check on the accounts of the Treasurer of the Household. Today, the Comptroller's duties outside of government are minimal and mainly ceremonial.
  • the Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, who is a full-time member of the Royal Household; his duties are concerned with the arrangement of ceremonial affairs rather than financial affairs.

Elsewhere, the Comptroller and Auditor General is head of the National Audit Office. Similarly, the Patent Office, also known as the UK Intellectual Property Office, is headed by the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.

The Comptroller of the Navy is a post in the Royal Navy responsible for procurement and matériel.

The Comptroller and City Solicitor is one of the High Officers of the City of London Corporation, responsible for provision of all legal services. The post of comptroller dates from 1311, and that of City Solicitor from 1544; the two were amalgamated in 1945.

United States[edit]

The title of comptroller is held by various government officials.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]