, , , ,

I have a monthend every month – odd I know, 12 of them a year! And you’d think with all the many years as an accountant I’d get used to them and find them boring at the sheer repetitiveness of it all. And yet, there are always some surprises.

This past monthend I had to contend with the fact that our bank account had been compromised so there was a wack-load of fraud cheques I had to account for in my cash reconciliations. Because of the compromised bank account, we had to shut it down and reopen a new one. This takes time. You might well ask “Beanie, why does it take so long to open up an account in the same financial institution?” And that is a valid question. What takes so long is not the process of opening up the account, that’s fairly easy and can be done in a few hours. Where the pain and time issues come are:

  • granting access to the new account – I should have access to view statements, download statements, review and either approve or reject cheque exceptions, initiate a stop payment, initiate a wire payment; my assistant should have the ability to initiate a wire payment, and run cheques (I shouldn’t have the ability to run cheques, but have the ability to approve a cheque-batch); my manager should have the ability not to initiate a wire/stop but to approve.
  • recoding the programming within SAP so that when the cheques print they print correctly, with the proper placement of the branch number, transit number, bank account, cheque number etc
  • testing the Positive Payment and  Cheque Disbursement Auditor – the communications between our servers and that of the bank
  • setting up new GL codes for the bank account – one for receipts, one for disbursements
  • Once all tested, getting my manager to sign off on it all

As well, I had been working on our Q3 Forecast – meeting with the IT Director, to discuss CAPEX and OPEX for the remainder of 2010 and to start preliminary discussions for the 2011 budget. I was deputized with the responsibility of determining how the IT costs (CAPEX and OPEX) will be allocated across the 7 entities functioning out of our office. As I have the two largest companies – one of them being “The Agency” – and all costs get charged to my unit first, it makes sense that I have these meetings. My meetings also include the IT Global Director and the IT North America Director, as both NY and London charge the Canadian affiliates through my Agency. I have fairly complex excel workbooks that do most of the allocations for me, but for them to work properly and accurately I still need to be aware of what those charges are — and question their validity. As well, as being global charges, determining if any of these charges are subject to self-assessment for Canadian VAT – so being aware of VAT rules with regards to software charges is a necessary component of my job.

All that, and still do my monthend.

I have fairly high expectations of myself. I want my reconciliations to be presented in a format readable and understandable by all stakeholders – my manager, the local CFO, NY, London, internal and external auditors, SOx Auditors, and even tax auditors. I also want my recs to balance, and if they do not I need to provide clear and concise explanations. All of this takes time. And as there are very tight deadlines, I tend to put in a fair amount of overtime. I was disappointed in my own performance this past monthend, though. I submit all my packages 24hrs before they are due to be published in our reporting system. I did not achieve this goal of mine, instead I submitted this past Thursday morning — the day the packages were due to NY. But even though I was very disappointed in myself, I take pride in the fact that I took ownership of my own personal failings with this regard. It takes my manager half a day to go through just my reconciliations, while the other 5 affiliates combined is just a couple of hours.

I submitted 9am this past Thursday – luckily all my recs were done, just needed to input into Cartesis. My co-w0rkers did not submit until way past 2pm. They were still working on their reconciliations when I came into the office. I have to admit, I took great and rather sadistic delight in my manager reaming out one of my co-workers. This particular co-worker of mine, who have labelled “twit” in a few prior posts,  has one tiny affiliate that generates about one tenth of what mine does, with regards to revenues. She doesn’t have a bank reconciliation to do, I reconcile her intercompany and I’m the one who hits her P&L with most of her costs (through my cost allocations entries) so all she really needs to do is to print out a few reports, stick in a binder and viola!

As of this past Friday afternoon all the packages were published except for this twit’s. She couldn’t reconcile her own billings. She also has a hard time entering her balance sheet into Cartesis. By the very name “Balance Sheet” one would surmise that it needs to balance. Yet, every month, her balance sheet does not balance. She still has a hard time understanding the difference between a debit & a credit. Had another co-worker ask me how are payments reflected in the accounting system .. I first stared at her, asked her how long she’s been an accountant, and then proceeded to draw a series of t-accounts to demonstrate the life of an invoice in the accounting system. Then I promptly told her to never ask me stupid questions again.

My manager is getting quite fed up with the lack of technical knowledge within the department. I have been tasked with putting together a presentation/workshop for my fellow bean counters. I am to teach them how to use SAP fully. The odd thing is, we all got the same training at the same time; but, I am the one who has retained that knowledge and has expanded on it by constantly questioning the IT folks in NY. I am also to give a basic Excel 101 Workshop to the Finance Department – things like how to save a file (shockingly, most of them get this wrong), how to create a simple  pivot, how to use formulae, which formula to use, how to adjust a vlookup or hlookup and how to do simple subtotals.

My stressful period is over, atleast for a couple of days. Then I have to work on budgets. I have done it yearly, thusfar, so I’m an old pro at it. I know which numbers need investigation, and I am preparing mentally for arguing my case for why I think certain categories should be higher to account for higher usage  (ie. cab costs). And areas where I truly believe senior management has to get involved for the purpose of cost containment. My co-workers have never worked on their own budgets .. not even my fellow Chief Accountant. This will be a new experience for the lot of them, and I am not relishing the plaintive cries of “beannnniiiieeeeee I neeeeeed help”.