Accountants are not just “bean counters” as popular parlance will have us believe but perform vital roles both within and without the organisation to ensure that the key information is available to enable management to run it successfully. Increasingly an organisation’s auditors/external accountants are able to add value to the business by recommending change for the better and providing expertise which may not exist internally.
The team at VALE Support Services have often worked in conjunction with the accountants to do things like isolate problems, improve business processes and ensure that reporting is accurate and relevant.
Examples – Case One
The Accountants for an organisation which sold and distributed fast moving products and was part of a larger mix of companies found a recurring difficulty when reconciling the margins that the management claimed they were achieving to those calculated by traditional accounting criteria. When the difference became more than 10% between one set of figures and the others the team at VALE were included in order to carry out some detailed analysis.
By analysing data both as the management did and as the accountants did the VALE team were able to prove that without doubt both sets of figures were correct according to the different methods adopted. Therefore the problem had to be elsewhere.
VALE visited the large warehouse complex at the centre of the multiple businesses and found, sure enough, that the problem lay there, in that stock of the same fast selling items was being provided free of charge according to contractual agreements but being counted as purchased stock for the business that just sold, rather than gave away, the same fast selling lines.
Tightening up processes in that warehouse as recommended by the Auditors and VALE resolved the issue.
Examples – Case Two
A Finance Company that leased equipment to end users found that they were suffering a higher degree of agreements turning into default than was acceptable. Their underwriters had not changed nor had their lending criteria so that was a mystery during fairly stable trading conditions.
Their Accountants noted that the Company had recently changed systems and suspected that the issues might be there and knowing of VALE’s ability as independent consultants called on VALE’s assistance. VALE’s brief was to check the current systems and processes to see if there were deficiencies.
VALE’s findings when presented were that there were both system issues and process issues. The two main issues were closely linked. Staff had changed when the new system was introduced and the new staff were not carrying out sufficient checks to ensure that there was no doubling up of client records. The chief system failure was that it relied on the finance agreement reference and did not drill down to the necessary unique reference for the items being financed.
The processes were written up again and staff thoroughly trained, by VALE, in following them and VALE wrote software that integrated with the new system to ensure that asset lists could be part of the drill down under the unique agreement number.