How do you know if you hired the right employee to manage your business finances? You like him or her, you check their references, you might even do a background check. But business owner beware! There is still a risk.
In my many years of business, I have only come across one blatant theft when working with my clients. I had a client many years ago that had a receptionist whom he wanted to also manage paying the bills and invoicing clients. That’s where I came in. He contacted me from a CPA friend of mine and I went out and after a few hours and another follow-up visit “Janie” was a pro at QuickBooks. Taught her almost everything I knew about the basics in operating QuickBooks for his Electrical Company. About 6 months later the client reached out to me for some help. He found that “Janie” was stealing from him. He caught her forging his signature on a check written to her! Yes, she was stealing! Instantly he fired her but brought me in to do more digging. After some hours, we soon learned that she had been doing this for months, stealing over $40,000. She was so “good” at the accounting software that she knew how to print a check and then change it. She was hiding it in cost of goods so that the owner would not be any wiser! Police called in, and you can imagine the rest.
How do you protect yourself? My first piece of advice is “trust your gut” even if “Sally or Bob” have been with you for years, if you started questioning them it is time to dig deeper. Your gut might be giving you signals.
Always understand what your bookkeeper is doing. Review bank statements and online transactions on occasion, or have a trusted advisor handle that. Create a “checks and balances” system. For example, the person who signs the checks might not be the one who writes them. Or have an outside person do the month end reconciliations.
Banks offer some protection to. Some offer Positive Pay; in its simplest form, it is a service that matches the account number, check number and dollar amount of each check presented for payment against a list of checks previously authorized and issued by the company.