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Control Accounts: Meaning, Advantages and Formats

what is a control account in accounting

For example, purchases of individual items of stores appearing in individual accounts in the stores ledger are totaled and posted in Stores Ledger Control Account in the cost ledger as wave financial 2021 total purchases. Thus, Stores Ledger Control Account is stores ledger in a summary form. A common yet underappreciated role of the business controller is interpreting financial data.

  • One such position is the controller (sometimes spelled “comptroller,” but always pronounced “controller”), who is the person responsible for a firm’s accounting-related activities.
  • To do so, we get accumulated balances that affect the movement of accounts.
  • However, for those who are up for the challenge, it can be a rewarding way to take control of your financial future.
  • He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
  • This means that you, as the account holder, are responsible for researching, selecting, buying, and selling various types of investments.
  • Life as an accountant isn’t particularly glamorous, but few career paths match its combination of solid pay, low stress, job security, and opportunity for advancement.

Therefore they are separated into subsidiary ledgers rather than clutter up the general ledger with too much detailed information. Control accounting both helps produce clean financial reports, and provides checks and balances for accurate reconciliation. In the case of an accounts receivable control account, the subtotal of the customer balances in the subledger must match up to the control account. If it does not, then there is an error somewhere in the books that must be corrected. While subsidiary accounts are critical for recording a company’s transactions, control accounts allow for high-level analysis by simply focusing on the balances of each account. They are especially important for reconciliation in large companies with a high volume of transactions when only the balance of the account is needed.


The total of all of these accounts is carried forward into the A/R control account, which appears in the general ledger and the financial statements. A debtors control account denotes an account within the master ledger that illustrates transactions owed by debtors. Debtors control accounts are also termed receivable control accounts or sales ledger control accounts because transactions among debtors are conducted daily, monthly, or within a specified financial period. Those subledgers are totaled for each reporting period, and the totals make up the balance of the accounts receivable control account. In other words, the accounts receivable control account reflects the total amount that a company is owed, while the its subledger shows how much each individual customer owes.

what is a control account in accounting

Individual transactions appear in both accounts, but only as an ending balance in the control account. More details such as where the money came from, who it came from and the date it was paid appear in the subsidiary ledger. A control account is a general ledger account containing only summary amounts. The details for each control account will be found in a related (but separate) subsidiary ledger.

What is Control Account?

For instance, all the transactions regarding credit purchases will be posted in the subsidiary payable accounts, where party-wise data is maintained along with purchase returns and discounts received. Control accounts are an important component of double-entry accounting and make up the foundation of the general ledger. They serve as a summary report of the total balances for each subledger, and allow for a streamlined analysis of a company’s balance sheet without all of the clunky details contained in each subledger.

what is a control account in accounting

Non-controller accountants have a number of specialties to choose from. Some go into auditing, others tax accounting, some work for the government, and others perform cost accounting and internal reports. For many manufacturers and retailers, inventory is the biggest investment; more cash is spent on inventory than any other asset. Because of that, a big part of operating a profitable business is to control the costs of inventory. Instead, further information will be stored in the Accounts Receivable subsidiary ledger. Control accounts could also be used for accounts payable, equipment, and inventory.

Detailed understanding of the control accounts

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Preventive controls are simply the controls that have been put in place by an organization to avoid any inaccuracies or incorrect practices. Control account makes for a much cleaner and easier-to-read ledger that’s easier for bookkeepers to use and manage.

  • Companies may have thousands of customers, all with accounts receivable balance.
  • A company can have hundreds or thousands of customers with current accounts receivable balances.
  • The bookkeeper would need to collect information about the balance of both ledgers to determine the trial balance for the account.
  • A control account is an account within the general ledger (GL) that sums up balances in subsidiary accounts.
  • I should note that I use them responsibly by paying the balances in full each month and staying well below my credit limits.

Accounting software will automatically categorize data and create control accounts and subledgers, allowing for simple data segmenting, as well as accurate accounting practices. For financial reports, the summary balances provided by the control accounts are generally all that’s needed for analysis. You can get a checking account with any bank or credit union, but a free high-yield checking account lets you earn interest and save.

Just because you summarize all debtors and creditors does not mean you don’t have to log each entry for each entity. The transactions and entries still have to be logged in another ledger. However, if Taylor or anyone else wants to find out the amount that a specific customer still owes for their credit purchases, or when they bought the item, that won’t be shown in the control account. An example of a preventive control would be limiting management’s involvement in the preparation of financial statements. Sometimes it’s helpful for management to be involved since they generally know the company better than anyone.

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