“There Are Times When You Do Spook the Herd!”
A phrase that I use frequently with career counselling clients entering a new role at a new company is “Don’t Spook the Herd.” This aphorism helps new employees understand the value of a cultural fit in their new job and learn how to get along with their colleagues in the early stages of their assignment.
- Conduct an external audit of company finances. Yes, this costs money, but having an external audit will identify if your accounting procedures are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Many accounting firms that conduct audits will qualify the audit results and state that fraud detection is not part of the audit. Nevertheless, if found, you will have a problem exposed.
Have an uninterested third party, a business consultant or other advisory firm, come in and ask questions of the financial staff. We like the “Why” question best, when asking about process.The “Why” question engenders a series of follow on questions, each digging deeper into the issue. This technique, used extensively in industrial quality control applications, continues to explore “Why” something happens. Normally, if there is a financial accounting problem, this technique will identify the issue. Yes, it’s a tad tedious and burdensome to accomplish. However the end result is either everything is in order and no further inquiry is necessary or a problem has been identified, one that requires further exploration and resolution.Openly investigating the finances of any company or organization will always “Spook the Herd.” And that’s a good thing. If there are no problems, you can rest assured that your financial systems are in order. If problems are detected, you can take action to resolve deficiencies in a timely manner.Our experience in matters such as these is that people rarely enjoy having their integrity or veracity questioned. Everyone needs to know that the questions are inquiries only, not accusations or comments impugning an individual’s integrity. All reliable team members should move positively in the same direction toward ensuring that internal accounting control procedures are working as designed.Why wait for a new hire to shake things up? Why not take a look at all of your accounting and bookkeeping procedures now. Make sure that you understand what is going on. Know why you use your systems as you do, why you are taking certain actions and the reasoning behind the methodology employed. Remember, it is YOUR money that is involved. Don’t be afraid to make the hard decisions. A little disruption can be valuable, especially the review yields improper actions. Better to spook the herd than watch hard-earned revenues disappear through illegal actions you might be able to prevent.