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A regional controller oversees a corporation's financial and accounting activities in a specific country or geographic zone. This employee uses accounting and economic skills to evaluate operating data, detect business trends and prepare financial statements that comply with industry practices, regulatory requirements and accounting principles. A regional controller role is a senior position that typically requires an advanced degree in accounting, auditing or finance.
A regional controller coordinates all financial reporting functions for his geographic zone. These functions may include accounting and bookkeeping, financial reporting, tax planning and investment analysis activities. A controller ensures that regional financial statements are accurate, complete and in accordance with country requirements, corporate policies and industry practices. Complete financial statements include a balance sheet, a statement of income, a statement of cash flows and a statement of shareholders' equity.
A regional controller typically holds a graduate degree, such as a master's or a doctorate degree, in accounting, finance, audit or tax. A regional controller also may hold a degree in liberal arts (e.g., anthropology, literature or political science) but have significant business experience. Professional certifications, such as certified public accountant (CPA), certified financial managers (CFM) and certified management accountant (CMA) designations, are common among regional controllers. Communication skills, especially linguistic abilities, also may be career boosters.
A regional controller's total compensation often includes cash and stock bonuses and typically depends on firm size, level of seniority, length of service and professional or academic credentials. Labor Department surveys show that median wages of controllers were $59,430 in 2008, with the bottom 10 percent earning less than $36,720 and the top 10 percent earning more than $102,380. For controllers overseeing substantial regional activities, salary levels are higher. The same polls indicate that median wages, excluding bonuses and stock options, of regional controllers were $99,330 in 2008, with the middle 50 percent earning between $72,030 and $135,070.
A regional controller may move to senior roles depending on business conditions, economic activities in a region or changes in corporate hierarchy. This employee may increase her chances of promotion by learning foreign languages, increasing multicultural skills and seeking a professional license such as the CPA or the CMA certification. For example, a regional controller overseeing the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) activities for a multinational bank may increase her chances of promotion by learning two or three languages spoken in the region.
A regional controller works more than 40 hours per week and may attend weekend top management strategic meetings. This employee also may stay late at the office to review business activities or participate in discussions with colleagues from abroad. For example, a Paris-based regional controller may stay in the office until 1 a.m. to receive a report from New York, is six hours behind.
Marquis Codjia is a New York-based freelance writer, investor and banker. He has authored articles since 2000, covering topics such as politics, technology and business. A certified public accountant and certified financial manager, Codjia received a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, majoring in investment analysis and financial management.