By Susan Parcells, CPA
Account reconciliation is an underappreciated yet critical control to help ensure an organization's financial integrity. Weaknesses and inefficiencies in the reconciliation process often lead to mistakes on the balance sheet and overall inaccuracies in the financial close.
Since the enactment of Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) in 2002 and other rules and regulations that have followed, ensuring the accuracy of account reconciliations has become increasingly important. In the past, if an external auditor found a material error during review of a company's financial statements, it could still be corrected by the company with an adjusting entry. In most cases, the controller wouldn't have to issue a restatement, nor would the auditor have to report the error.
With the advent of SOX, the call for compliance has risen to another level. If the auditor finds a material error, the company may be required to disclose a failure of controls. And, if the auditor finds a misstatement while reviewing the quarterly or annual SEC reports that the company cannot prove it would have found on its own, then the error is determined to be a material misstatement and a material weakness that could also require disclosure.
An efficient, accurate, and timely financial close cycle (beginning with the account reconciliation process) can create a foundation for evaluating business performance, supporting organizational decisions, and satisfying external reporting requirements. Automation of the account