It is often during the year-end review of files that tax accounts see discrepancies and glaring changes in a clients’ business file. A good Tax account will call this to the attention of the client or the bookkeeper. Since we are outsourcers, we are often not sent feedback for months or even a year. Then viola something we did earlier in the year caused a problem. Or did it? How many hands were involved and what was the thinking behind it all?
With cloud-based systems, the savvy tech informed clients, 3rd party apps, and turnover of staff changes can occur that are often only seen during year-end tax review. So here is a story and if you don’t think that time spent on review of procedures for a client’s books, or a standing task to check a file monthly, is not worth it? Well, then be ready to spend a lot of time fixing the little things that will drive you crazy during the busiest time of the year. If you don’t take the time up-front you most certainly will have to do it in the end.
As I said we often do not get regular feedback of the review of the work we send back, but we will get the blame. Trying to figure out why something happened in the first place is where I tend to put the energy. Only then can I rectify it from occurring in the future. In this case, I was perusing slack channels looking for keywords that mean Trouble with a capital T. And I found a simple statement of, ‘You messed up and the client is showing xxxxxx.xx of overstated income.’ ME: &@#%…BREATH!
I asked the infirm account manager what was the cause and she said, “I don’t know the tax account brought it up ask her.” So, I did. The tax account told me where it happened. Cash drawer receipts. I then went to the bookkeeper on our team that did the work. This was very odd as she had been doing this work for this client for three years. And she was one of our best as this was a difficult task with many daily transactions and steps to manage this specific work. But in three years always perfect, until now?
Tell me if this does not sound familiar. My bookkeeper, who is also a CA, sent me the following:
- Listed procedures for handling Cash drawer for company XXXX dated 2019 under in firm account manager #1.
- Listed procedures for same task same company 2020 under new infirm account manager #2, procedures were different and immediately caused a change in the income.
- This change was noted by my bookkeeper, and she sent it to infirm account manager #2. Nothing was done and my bookkeeper was told by #2 to continue.
- 2021 Tax account brings up the overstated income for client XXXX to infirm Account manager #3, whose slack message I found.
- Account Manager #3 sent new instructions to point out what we did wrong that caused an overstated income, Account Manager #2 was gone and had been for a few months.
We documented new procedures, fixed the mistake and I sent all digital copies and correspondence maintained by us over the years to the firm partner. I do not point this out to blame only to tell the story of what happens when many hands are touching a file and they aren’t all in the agreement or equally aware of the goal. And this firm is dang good at documenting procedures. But maybe too busy to do a cursory review? This is also done to maybe just tell readers to take a breath. Yeah! Me saying take a breath! See even old dogs can learn new tricks.