A division controller is a senior financial executive in a corporation's department or business unit. A division controller is often referred to as segment or department controller. A company's senior leadership usually asks division controllers to prepare periodic segment reports and analyze business trends or profitability levels within their business units.
A division controller analyzes the financial performance of a department or business unit. He compares current versus historical operating data to compute variances (fluctuations) and profitability measures such as profit margin (net income over sales) or return on equity (net income over owners' investments). A department finance chief also prepares annual budget plans for a segment, and she ensures that such plans adhere to top management's directives, regulatory guidelines and industry practices.
Education and Training
A division controller typically holds a bachelor's degree in accounting, auditing, taxation or investment analysis. However, an advanced degree, such as a master's or doctorate, in a business field is usually the norm at that hierarchy level. A liberal arts major also may work in the field, provided that he has significant practical business experience. A segment controller with prior public accounting experience may have a certified public accountant (CPA) or certified internal auditor (CIA) license.
A division controller's salary generally includes wages as well as cash and stock bonuses. Her total compensation depends on the company's size, the industry or sector and the state of the economy. Other factors such as her academic training, length of service and seniority also affect compensation levels. According to the U.S. Labor Department, median wages for division controllers were $99,330 in 2008, excluding annual bonuses and stock options, with the middle 50 percent of the occupation earning from $72,030 to $135,070.
A department finance head's chances of promotion typically depend on economic trends, length of service and seniority. The organization's size, staffing needs and hierarchy structure also may affect his chances of career growth. Additionally, a segment finance director periodically may attend training sessions to improve her promotion chances. A skilled and competent division controller may be promoted to a higher role, such as senior department finance chief, corporate controller or finance vice president, within five to 10 years.
A division controller's work schedule is flexible, but long hours and hectic schedules may be expected at that hierarchy level. A department finance director may work late nights or early mornings if business conditions require it. At the end of the quarter, he may spend long hours coordinating the division's regulatory information that the firm's senior management sends to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
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