How Controllers Become Business Partners

10 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016 Last revised: 14 Jul 2019

See all articles by Raef A. Lawson

Raef A. Lawson

Institute of Management Accountants

Date Written: July 1, 2016


Controllers have a new role in their organizations, and strategy is the key. Traditionally their role has been process driven and governed by routines such as month-end and statutory reporting. Financial statements, general ledger, cost accounting, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, budgeting, and tax compliance are typical responsibilities. Yet numerous research studies by IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) indicate that corporate controllers are doing much more. Their role is expanding and changing in ways that mirror those of the broader finance function.

Research conducted by IMA and its partners has found an ongoing transformation of the finance function into more of a strategic business partner within organizations. Professionals in the finance function are moving from the delivery of data and results to the interpretation of information and contributing to decision-making activities.

A controller taking on a greater leadership role in his or her organization needs to become more of a strategic business partner than in the past. Most controllers are aware of this, of course, but many aren’t exactly sure what this means in practice — or precisely how to make the shift. This article outlines steps controllers can take to advance their role in the organization

Suggested Citation

Lawson, Raef A., How Controllers Become Business Partners (July 1, 2016). Available at SSRN:

Raef A. Lawson (Contact Author)

Institute of Management Accountants ( email )

10 Paragon Drive
Montvale, NJ 07645-1760
United States
2014741532 (Phone)
2014741603 (Fax)

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