reconciliation

Are you ready for audit season?

It’s almost audit season for calendar-year entities. A little preparation can go a long way toward facilitating the external audit process, minimizing audit adjustments and surprises, lowering your audit fees in the future and getting more value out of the audit process. Here are some ways to plan ahead.

The mindset

Before fieldwork begins, meet with your office team to explain the purpose and benefits of financial statement audits. Novice staff members may confuse financial audits with IRS audits, which can sometimes become contentious and stressful. Also designate a liaison in the accounting department who will answer inquiries and prepare document requests for auditors.

Reconciliation
Enter all transactions into the accounting system before the auditors arrive, and prepare a schedule that reconciles each account balance. Be ready to discuss any estimates that underlie account balances, such as allowances for uncollectible accounts, warranty reserves or percentage of completion.

Check the schedules to reveal discrepancies from what’s expected based on the company’s budget or prior year’s balance. Also review last year’s adjusting journal entries to see if they’ll be needed again this year. An internal review is one of the most effective ways to minimize errors and adjusting journal entries during a financial statement audit.

Work papers
Auditors are grateful when clients prepare work papers to reconcile account balances and transactions in advance. Auditors also will ask for original source documents to verify what’s reported on the financial statements, such as bank statements, sales contracts, leases and loan agreements.

Compile these documents before your audit team arrives. They may also inquire about changes to contractual agreements, regulatory or legal developments, additions to the chart of accounts and major complex transactions that occurred in 2016.
Internal controls

Evaluate internal controls before your auditor arrives. Correct any “deficiencies” or “weaknesses” in internal control policies, such as a lack of segregation of duties, managerial review or physical safeguards. Then the auditor will have fewer recommendations to report when he or she delivers the financial statements.

Value-added
Financial statement audits should be seen as a learning opportunity. Preparing for your auditor’s arrival not only facilitates the process and promotes timeliness, but also engenders a sense of teamwork between your office staff and external accountants.

© 2016

Month End Accounts and Reconciliations

Quick tips for a more efficient and effective close.

 

By Jeremy Myers, CPA

Audit Supervisor at Atchley & Associates, LLP

 

Businesses, much like your personal finances, balance their books on a monthly basis, or they should. The month end close process of reconciling bank accounts or even credit cards accounts are typically the last item that gets reconciled and closed each month.  This process insures that you have recorded all of the bank transactions such as bank fees or ACH payments/deposits that your business did not already have a paper form of payment.  Also in the sense of reconciling your business’ credit card bill to insure all the charges are proper, have support (receipts kept and attached to the statement), and that no unknown or possible fraudulent charges have made your statement with the end result of showing the complete liability for items that you have not yet paid for. For any control based procedure there is a need to insure the procedure is being performed timely and accurately.

Now that most statements are available online complete the next day after the statement close, the timeliness of the reconciliation can be taken out of the equation.  You just need to set up a schedule and by X day of the month, each month, every month, the account gets reconciled and any entries for transactions that have happened get put into the accounting system.

The other main attribute for effective procedures is accuracy and this attribute is just as much about transcribing the numbers from the statement in to the accounting system as it is as making sure you are reconciling the account to the proper date.  Most bank accounts, unless asked for otherwise, are set up based on the day of the week you opened the account.  For personal use, this might not be a bad thing, however, for businesses, most do not have mid-month closing dates.  Our biggest recommendation is make sure that your statements: bank, investments, credit card, etc… are on a month end basis.  That way you know you are reconciling your statement to each month end, and most importantly, year-end (as each of the months close into the end of the year).  This can be accomplished by simply calling your banker, investment advisor, credit card dealer, etc… and asking them to change your statement to a month end basis; this should cover the months that end in 28, 29, 30, or 31 days.

By performing your reconciliations timely and at the appropriate end date (typically month and year end) you can insure all of the transactions occurring during the month are appropriately recorded in your businesses’ records and for those pesky accruals, you can accrue an entire credit card statement instead of trying to add up the certain transaction that occurred prior to the end of the month.