There’s nothing more vital to a business than keeping its finances in order. While there’s no shortage of responsibility in running a business, it’s ultimately really all about the bottom line, isn’t it? No matter how you look at it, money is the lifeblood of your business, and management of your books is of paramount importance to the survival of the company. So it’s natural to be somewhat concerned about whether you can really trust your accountant.
We’re in the business, and we think most accountants do an excellent job, helping you to cut costs and make plans for the future of your business. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be careful and watch out for signs that your accountant may be less than trustworthy. A dishonest accountant can really make some serious trouble for you, and the news is filled with horror stories that show these things actually happen.
Of particular concern should be the situation in which you have one person managing all of your accounting and bookkeeping, since there’s not really a process in place to oversee their work. It may also be difficult to keep tabs on exactly what they’re doing with your accounts. They are likely to know those systems better than you do, and a less than honest accountant can potentially wreak financial havoc on your business.
If you’re not confident that you can trust your accountant, it may be time to consider outsourcing that work to a virtual accountant. While many people are initially apprehensive about farming out such crucial responsibilities, there are number of advantages and safeguards in having an outside group do your accounting.
Here are some of the risks that a virtual accountant will protect you against:
Blank checks in the office
Your in-house accountant will almost certainly have access to your checkbook, as well as account numbers and other vital statistics. None of us want to be suspicious of our employees, but leaving checks around that an employee can steal (and potentially write out to cash) is a risk you don’t need to take. Your accountant wouldn’t be the first one to breach your trust and siphon money out of your accounts. A virtual accountant, on the other hand, won’t have access to those blank checks, and you’ll always be able to access your books and see exactly what has been transacted.
Lack of internal controls
If you don’t have anyone looking over the shoulder of your accountant, you really don’t know what he or she is up to on a daily basis, especially if they’re the only one looking at the books on a regular basis. A virtual accountant will provide you with redundancy, that is, multiple sets of eyes looking over the work, which creates a built-in safeguard against any mischief in your books.
It’s difficult to adequately check your accountant’s background
Sure, you do the best job that you can screening your employees when you hire them. You may try to obtain references from their past employers, or even run a third party background check. But there’s really no way to gauge whether the references paint an accurate picture, and even a background check may not tell the whole story. (An employee may in fact have a history of being dishonest, but simply may not have gotten caught yet.) A virtual accounting firm will have already screened its staff members, and provides multiple layers of review within their organization, to eliminate any risk of dishonestly or foul play.