While every employee adds value to your business, controllers play an especially vital role. With this in mind, it is important that you hire and retain top candidates to fill this essential position. In order to do so, you will need to offer a competitive controllers compensation package.

Below, we’ll outline the average controller’s compensation. We’ll also discuss the gap between the salaries of CFOS and controllers. Finally, our experts will identify the reasons why offering a great package for controller’s compensation is vital for your organization.

What Is the Average Controller’s Compensation?

The average controller’s compensation varies greatly in the United States. Keep in mind that these compensation packages include benefits as well as pay.

When determining how much to offer prospective controllers, you should consider factors such as:

  • The size of your business
  • How many responsibilities the individual will take on
  • Your budget
  • The credentials and experience level of candidates

According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for U.S. controllers is approximately $95,000. The most common benefits included in controllers’ compensation packages are health insurance, paid time off (PTO), employer-matched retirement contributions, dental insurance, and a 401(k).

Several other sites list the average controllers’ salary as being much higher. For instance, Salary.com states that the median controllers’ salary is $223,544. According to that site, the top 10% of controllers earn approximately $300,000 annually. This data may have been collected from larger organizations, which explains the disparity between the two sources.

During our research, we also collected data from a third site, Comparably. They listed the U.S. average controllers’ compensation at $425,000. However, their figures also include vice presidents and corporate controllers.

Learn more in Accounting and CPA Compensation Trends.

CFO Salaries vs. Controllers Compensation

Generally, chief financial officers earn a higher salary than traditional controllers. This is because they are often assigned greater responsibilities.

CFOs not only oversee extensive components of your company’s operations, but they are also more involved in making financial decisions.

In the United States, CFOs typically earn tens of thousands more per year than controllers.

When filling a CFO position, it is important that you keep in mind the expectation for higher compensation due to the added responsibilities.

Depending on the unique needs of your organization, you may be able to outsource some responsibilities in order to eliminate the need for a dedicated CFO. This could allow you to hire a controller instead of a CFO and better allocate company resources to other needs.

Why You Should Offer Competitive Controllers’ Compensation Packages

On average, it costs upwards of $4,000 to fill a position. This figure is based on a 2016 report, so the actual cost of hiring a new employee may be even higher in 2021.

In addition to spending thousands of dollars to hire a new controller, you will also need to train them, which consumes further resources.

With so much invested in your hiring and training processes, it is vital that you offer competitive compensation.

When your controllers’ compensation package is competitive, you will be able to:

Attract Quality Talent

Qualified candidates are going to be drawn to the most lucrative offers. They will pay close attention to salary, retirement benefits, and insurance packages. If your compensation package is lagging behind the competition, then you are going to miss out on top-tier talent.

Improve Retention

By making sure that your compensation package is in line with the industry averages, you will also improve retention rates for your controllers.

The last thing you want to do is become a training ground that new controllers use to gain experience, only to leave a few years later.

Give your new hires plenty of incentive to stick around and your entire company will benefit. Continuity is essential for the financial industry!

Optimize Productivity

When it comes time to hire a controller, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Organizations can sometimes get by with non-competitive pay in less important positions. However, setting your controller compensation rates too low can have a negative impact on your company.

Controllers that are willing to take a position with below-average compensation will likely be unmotivated, inexperienced, or both. They may not commit to giving their all each workday. To make matters worse, they may use your company to bridge gaps in their resume while they look for better opportunities.

Alternatively, adequately compensated controllers will be more productive and add value to your organization.

Avoid Hidden Costs of Low Compensation

Frugal employers often view lower compensation as a means to save money and improve profitability. Unfortunately, this strategy often backfires, especially when it comes to essential employees like controllers.

If your controller suddenly departs due to non-competitive pay, you will be forced to fill the void as quickly as possible. In the meantime, your company will lose thousands of dollars as a result of the lost productivity.

As you can see, skimping on controller compensation can drastically hinder the growth of your organization. Using the data outlined above, you can devise an equitable controllers’ compensation package that positions your business to succeed.

Join the Controllers Council to Learn More

Looking to learn more about compensation trends? Controllers Council is a national community and platform of Controllers, Accounting and Finance professionals focused on accounting best practices, information and resources, recognition and networking. Membership has many features and benefits to propel your career and expertise, and to be an active participant in our exciting community. Discuss topics like compensation and more in our forum. Become a member today.

Additional Resources

The Growing Shortage of Accountants and CPAs

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in Accounting and Corporate Finance

Should Corporate Finance Switch to Long-Term Remote Work?