A fund controller is a senior finance professional who oversees all accounting and financial reporting functions for a hedge, a mutual, a pension or a private equity fund. This expert ensures that a fund's financial statements are accurate and comply with fund policies, industry practices, accounting principles and regulatory standards. A controller typically holds a bachelor's or a master's degree in a business field.
A fund controller establishes adequate and effective internal controls, policies and mechanisms around a fund's financial reporting processes to prevent losses due to theft, fraud, technology malfunction or human error. An adequate policy lists in detail instructions for task performance and problem reporting. An effective policy rectifies internal problems properly. This expert also ensures a fund's financial and statutory statements are fair and complete and agree with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). "Fairness" means accuracy in accounting or finance parlance. Complete financial records include four data summaries: a statement of financial position, a statement of profit and loss, a statement of cash flows and a statement of shareholders' equity. A fund controller also coordinates audit activities with internal and external auditors and ensures that departmental employees remedy significant problems or control weaknesses that auditors detect.
An experienced fund controller could become a finance director or a chief financial director (CFO) after five years. This expert could work in the fund industry or for another financial services company—such as a bank, an insurance company, a venture capital firm or a university endowment. A fund controller who holds a professional certification, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), has more opportunities to advance professionally.
Required Skills and Knowledge
A fund accounting specialist must possess strong communication skills (written, oral and graphic) and research abilities. This specialist also needs to have expertise in financial market activities, accounting, audit, tax and statutory regulations affecting hedge, mutual, pension and private equity funds.
A fund controller typically holds a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or investments. A controller also could have a master's or doctorate degree in mathematical finance or statistics.
Salary and Work Hours
A fund controller's schedule could include regular office hours (8 am to 6 pm) as well as weekend or late-night assignments. These assignments could occur at the end of the month or the quarter when a mutual or a hedge fund must file regulatory and statutory documents—such as Securities and Exchange or Internal Revenue Service filings. Salary levels for fund controllers depend on experience, fund size and academic training. The U.S. Labor Department notes that median wages of fund controllers, excluding cash and stock bonuses, were $99,330 in 2008.