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Can you trust your bookkeeper?

I came across a story of an estate agency that nearly went bust after having almost £2m stolen by the bookkeeper over a period of five years.

From reading the newspaper report, the fraud was not spotted by the accountant because the bookkeeper forged emails from the bank to inflate the bank balances.

Here is a list of warning signs:

Lifestyle – worry if your bookkeeper drives a better car than you and enjoy luxury holidays. Yes, they may have a spouse or partner who earns lots of money, or they may have benefited from an inheritance but perhaps your business are paying their bills.

Missing paperwork – be suspicious if paperwork always seems to be missing and misfiled and only your bookkeeper can find it.

Increased responsibility – be cautious if your bookkeeper volunteers or pushes to accept great responsibility (and control) with accounting matters.

Management accounts – be a little concerned if your bookkeeper should not necessarily produce your management accounts. It is easier for them to cover up their fraud.

Control – alarm bells can start tinkling if you bookkeeper wants control of all finance matters from invoicing to credit control and banking.

No holidays – be wary if your bookkeeper never has a holiday or insists no no-one doing the books while they are away.

Vices – be very concerned if your bookkeeper shows signs of heavy drinking or gambling.

Confusion – be concerned if the numbers don’t make sense. If you think you are making more profit than the accounts show dig and dig until you find an answer.

One thing you can consider doing is paying Sackmans to complete a check of your bookkeeping one year. Another strategy is to build in some internal controls. Either way we can help.