August 10, 2019
We have seen over the years some major corporate frauds and collapses hitting the headlines from time to time and many of these were high profile and the amounts involved quite spectacular.
With the current pressures we are still facing from a slow economy, challenges associated with difficulties in renewing finance, the challenge of achieving targets, even simply paying suppliers bills and it becomes easy and opportune for the risk of fraud and petty crime for all sizes of businesses to go undetected over long periods.
We at, John M Shanahan & Co, Chartered Accountants, Tullamore, Co Offaly have taken a look at the steps you take to make sure your business is secure.
Given the wide range of fraud that could possibly be committed, what steps can you take to minimise the risk of fraud being perpetrated within your business?
Consider our top ten tips for detecting and preventing fraud.
Begin by recruiting the right people to work in your business. Make sure that you check out references properly and ensure that any temporary staff are also vetted, particularly if they are to work in key areas;
2. Clear Policy
Ensure that you have a clear policy that fraud will not be tolerated within the business and ensure that this is communicated to all staff;
3. Identify Risk Areas
Consider which areas of your business could be at risk, then plan and implement appropriate defences. Target the areas where most of your revenue comes from and where most of your costs lie. Develop some simple systems of internal control to defend these areas. Effective controls include:
4. Segregation of Duties
Wherever possible don’t have only one person who is responsible for controlling an entire area of the business. This in particular includes the accounting function but will also include other key areas. For example ordering goods, stock control and despatch in a business where stocks include attractive consumer goods.
5. Authorization & Controls
Always retain a degree of control over the key accounting functions of your business. Don’t pre-sign blank cheques other than in exceptional circumstances and ensure that the corresponding invoices are presented with the cheques.
6. Budgets & Management Accounts
Prepare budgets and monthly management accounts and compare these against your actual results so that you are aware of variances. Taking prompt investigative action where variances arise could make all the difference by closing the window of opportunity afforded to fraudsters.
Watch out for notable changes in cashflow when an employee is away from the office, on holiday for example. Similarly be aware of employees who never take their holiday. These could both be indicators of fraud, something we see when we look back retrospectively.
8. Employee Roles
Watch out for employees who are overly protective of their role - they may have something to hide. Similarly watch out for disaffected employees, who might be bearing a grudge or those whose circumstances change for the worse or inexplicably for the better!
9. Unusual Events/Requests
Be on the lookout for unusual requests from staff involved in the accounting function or a cash department, they may be hiding something.
10. Learn from the Experience
Where a fraudster is caught, make sure that appropriate action is taken and learn from the experience.
We at JOHN M. SHANAHAN & CO. are here to help you with all your business, financial, accounting, statutory and taxation requirements, by providing expert, specialist and professional service tailored to meet your needs.