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Best Practices for the Account Reconciliation Process

Strategy tips to ensure your cash flow stays on track.

In the era of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and other regulations, it's more critical than ever that businesses have a strong and efficient account reconciliation process. Apply these best practices to minimize inconsistencies in the balance sheet and to facilitate an accurate financial close.

Automate

Account reconciliation software from providers such as BlackLine Systems or from your financial institution can help ensure that all accounts are reconciled timely and consistently. The software also provides a virtual audit trail to make certain that accounting procedures are adhered to and that a standard methodology is used throughout the firm.

Train Staff

Even with automation, staff should understand the reconciliation process and the general purpose of each account so they can monitor accounts for unusual balances and closely watch those accounts that are high risk. Implement a standard account reconciliation form throughout the business that outlines key information such as the normal account balance range, types of journal entries, the purpose of the account and account ownership.

Review Processes

Periodically audit the account reconciliation process to ensure compliance with accounting standards and company policies. Consider using peer reviews to validate processes and procedures and recommend improvements.

Keep Balance Sheet Accounts Separate

To make it easier to investigate and correct reconciliation issues, keep separate accounts for different activities, such as separate cash accounts rather than linking multiple accounts to a single general ledger account.

Reduce the Number of Accounts

The number of accounts tends to increase every year, making reconciliation more complicated and unwieldy. Periodically review accounts to determine if they are still used or can be merged with other accounts.

Resolve Issues Quickly

Promptly investigate and correct unreconciled accounts. For those items that are delinquent more than a predetermined number of days, ask the account owner to create an action plan for reconciliation.

Time Reconciliations Based on Risk

Reconcile high-risk accounts more frequently than less risky accounts. Since the risk profile of a particular account can change over time, reevaluate reconciliation frequency per account at least annually.

 


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