Being the most liquid of assets, we recognize the importance of ensuring the accuracy of our cash balance through regular bank reconciliation. However, most companies put this important process aside and settle with annual reconciliation, usually just to meet year-end audit requirements.
As complicated as it may sound, there are actually basic steps towards accurate cash reporting.
KNOW WHAT YOU NEED. To perform a reconciliation, you will need your (a) cash transactions and balance per books and (2) bank statement as of a specified date. It is also very important to ensure that the covered period in both records are the same.
CLOSE YOUR BOOKS. Going through the entire reconciliation process only to find out that there were additional cash transactions booked in the period you are covering is inefficient and frustrating. Make sure that your records are complete and no more cash transactions are booked on or before your covered period. If unavoidable, be at least informed so you can consider them in your reconciliation accordingly.
ESTABLISH BANK BALANCE FIRST. It is generally easier to get the correct bank balance first since there are only a few (and usually recurring) reconciling items involved. These transactions do not require you to post adjusting entries. The most common bank reconciling items are Outstanding Checks, Deposits in Transit, and Bank Errors.
- Outstanding Checks – These are checks released but not yet cleared with the bank. In your books, these are already considered payments hence, should be deducted from your bank balance.
- Deposits in Transit – These are collections that are yet to be deposited. In your books, these are correctly recorded as part of your cash hence, should be added to your bank balance.
- Bank Errors – Although uncommon, banks can commit errors too. In this case, you should inform your bank right away for proper action. Depending on the transaction, bank errors may be added to or deducted from your bank balance to get to your adjusted amount.
Once you have established your bank balance, you can already compare it with your book balance and assess the magnitude of your book reconciling items. Book reconciling items should be recorded accordingly to get to your correct book balance. Book reconciling items include bank charges, direct deposits made by customers, auto-debit transactions (usually for utilities), and book errors.
SAY NO TO MONTHLY MATCHING. The secret to fast month-end reconciliation is by not doing it monthly. As much as possible, matching book and bank transactions should be performed at least weekly. A few companies are actually doing it daily! TIP: If you subscribe to online banking, you can easily download bank balances and transactions as of the day before.
AUTOMATE. Bank reconciliation is already (or can be) embedded in most ERPs today. Inquire with your software provider. However, if you’re still comfortable with excel spreadsheets, templates can be developed to simplify the reconciliation process and significantly reduce the time spent manually matching transactions and identifying red flags.
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