I recently was working with a client who was not regularly reconciling their bank accounts. It was very apparent, even though they are a small not-for-profit with minimal transactions, just how important it is to complete monthly bank recons. If you don’t do these yourself, or you simply don’t do them in a timely manner, read on! You just may realize what a priority it should be for your business.
The blindingly obvious reason that my client needed to be doing their monthly bank recons was to identify a recurring posting error: duplicate deposits. A common error was occurring where customer payments were being posted through the “Receive Payment” module and through the “Record Deposits” module. I discuss this situation in a previous blog: QuickBooks & Common Deposit Mistakes. The takeaway from this is that a bank recon would have shown left-over deposits in QuickBooks that don’t match up with the bank. A little research would show the duplication and corrections could be made.
The same can be true for duplicated expenses, which I discuss in more detail in a previous blog: QuickBooks & Common Expense Mistakes.
Reason for timeliness: You may over-assume how much cash you have on hand if you’re only looking at your accounting records and not comparing with the bank. This could lead to cash-flow problems but can be mitigated if corrections for posting errors are done as soon as possible.
Bank recons will identify transactions that did not get posted. This could arise from simple oversights or could be an indication that communication from a third party was not received. No matter the reason, it’s critical to become aware of items still needing to be posted.
Reason for timeliness: Again, you may over-assume how much cash you have on hand by not comparing bank transactions to ones posted. A large transaction clearing the bank for more than you actually have will not only create a cash flow problem but will likely result in overdraft fees or rejection by the bank. Catching these transactions early reduces the risk of spending more than you have.
This ties in with missed transactions. If you are not reconciling your bank account, how would you ever know if an employee was embezzling funds? This type of fraud often involves masking the situation, but if an employee knows that the bank recon is not done, the embezzlement becomes that much easier. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to connect unposted transactions with fraud months or years after it occurs.
Another common occurrence of fraud is unauthorized charges. Most banks will have a specific time frame in which you can get reimbursed for these charges and if you miss that window, you’re simply out of luck!
Reason for timeliness: Even if you only commit to reviewing your bank statement, time is of the essence! The more recent the date, the easier it will be to distinguish legitimate charges from potentially fraudulent ones. Memory will play a big part in why timeliness is so important. As always, go a step further than simple review and do a bank recon.
If you’ve never reconciled your bank accounts and are overwhelmed at the idea of doing so, please reach out to me to discuss getting your recons caught-up. Bank recons are my absolute favorite (yes, I’m not kidding!) and I can get through them quickly and accurately. Once they are caught-up, I can train you on the process and I guarantee it won’t feel so daunting going forward. All you need is a clean start and the confidence from having learning a tried-and-true process.