1. Terms of Reference
1.1. This report has been prepared to investigate the accounting systems and internal control of Inkwell Ltd with recommendations on improvement thereof in order to ensure that the company is protected and minimise the risk of fraud.
1.2. The report investigates the company as a whole as well is all internal and external stakeholders.
1.3. The costs and benefits of the recommendations and potential for fraud in terms of the risk to the organisation are analysed.
1.4. Finally the report has been prepared to cover the course requirements of the Internal Controls and Evaluating Accounting Systems as set out in the course material and is part of the AT(SA) Level 5 Diploma.
2. Executive Summary
3.1. Research from books and the internet was used as reference to produce this report.
3.2. The case study and review of the company’s accounting system for a 6 month period to enable a SWOT analysis to be produced.
3.3. A fraud matrix was prepared in order to investigate potential fraud within the accounting system and analyse the control and systems in place to prevent the fraud.
4. Introduction to the Organisation
4.1. Inkwell Ltd is a company established by two of its three controlling shareholders. The two shareholders who started the company are Paul Farnon who owns 40% of the company’s shares and Veronica Dawson who owns 30% of the company’s shares. Anil Gupta who is the third controlling shareholder and owns 30% of the company’s shares, was brought in after seven years of operation for his professional accounting expertise.
4.2. Inkwell Ltd is a company who acquires empty used cartridges and recycles it for the purpose of resale. They are well known for good quality products with 100% guarantee.
4.3. The company emphasises the green advantages of its business model and prides itself on being environmentally friendly. Inkwell Ltd will need to pay special attention to the maintenance and building of relationships with external stakeholders due to them operating on a Just in time system. If one supplier supplies poor quality or late delivery, it can cause a major delay in the operations. The delay will have a cost impact as this may lead to customers not being satisfied and ultimately lose the customers, which will in turn affect Inkwell Ltd profits.
4.4. The accounting function and system is therefore pivotal in the company. A delay in the financial information will lead to incorrect business decisions.
4.5. The company will use financial statements for guidance and decision making. For example, the Income statement and statement of financial position can be used to calculate various ratios to determine how well the company’s operations are doing. The Cash flow statement is integral to the operations especially due to the company operating on a just in time system, so that they have a rough estimate of cash available for operations.
4.6. External regulations affecting the organization:
4.6.1 HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will set the Vat and is responsible for collection of taxes (PAYE and corporation tax).
4.6.2 The Company’s Act 2006 – sets out the standard to which the financial statements should be prepared.
4.6.3 UK Accounting Standards – Further define the policies and procedures in the preparation of accounting statements in the United Kingdom. They are either known as Statements of Standard Accounting Practises (SSAPs) or Financial Reporting Standards (FRSs) depending on when they were issued.
4.6.4 International regulations such as, Internal Accounting standards (IASs) and International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS), issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
4.6.5 The Data Protection Act 1988 – This act regulates the processing of data and how sensitive information on customers, suppliers and employees are stored inside the organisation. Inkwell will need to ensure they comply with the act or risk heavy penalties if data is found to be misused and/or stolen.
4.7. Key External Stakeholders
4.7.1 Customers – The customers of Inkwell Ltd are smaller non-trade retail customers who account for 80% of Inkwell Ltd’s revenue and the larger trade customers. These customers are expecting high quality products with 100% guarantee.
4.7.2 Suppliers – The suppliers are businesses who are contracted to deliver two days after receiving the order. Suppliers will be concerned with prompt payments for goods supplied. Inkwell Ltd also receives supplies from walk-in customers who would like to recycle their empty cartridges and by customers who post their empty cartridges. These customers become suppliers and are offered a 10% discount when returning the empty cartridges for recycling.
4.7.3 Bank Manager – Inkwell Ltd produced a series of robust business plans which enabled them to raise sufficient finance from there bank to grow the company into a significant player in the cartridge supplies sector.
5. The Accounts Department
5.1. The accounts department of Inkwell Ltd is based at the head office located in Birmingham and they use a centralised accounting system. The team consists of eight staff members. The purpose of the accounts department is to produce reliable financial information for management to make sound robust business decisions.
5.2. Anil Gupta is the Finance Director and is in charge of corporate strategy, capital investments and the overall financial position of the company. He has delegated the running of the department to the company accountant.
5.3. Michael O’Payne is the company accountant who has been in charge of all financial relations since before Anil Gupta joined the company. The rest of the finance team reports to him.
5.4. The team reporting to Michael consist of, Accounting Technician, General Ledger and Inventory clerk, Purchase Ledger clerk, Sales Ledger clerk, Costing Technician, Payroll and Personnel Database clerk.
5.5. The accounts department – key internal stakeholders
5.5.1 Anil Gupta, BSC, FCMA, Finance Director is responsible for the overall financial position, Legal, Accounting procedures and systems of the company. He also owns 30% shares since he joined the company in 2008.
5.5.2 Michael O’Payne, ACCA, Company Accountant has been with the company since inception in 2003.His main responsibilities include the running of the accounts department, producing monthly management accounts and personally approves all payments to suppliers. There is a low level of tension between him and Anil, due to him seeing the appointment of Anil as a demotion.
5.5.3 Alex Fox, Accounting Technician is responsible for the review of the accounting system and recommend changes if necessary. He reports to Michael, however he has a dotted line to Anil as due to project work.
5.5.4 Michelle Labelle, General Ledger and Inventory Clerk who is responsible for capturing data into the general ledger and produce the month end trial balance. She also maintains the company cashbook and petty cash system. Her other responsibilities includes the upkeep of financial control of inventories which requires her to have close relationships with the store managers.
5.5.5 Liana Khan, Accounts Payable (Purchase Ledger) Clerk is responsible for entering all suppliers’ invoices and credit notes into the accounts payable ledger and arrange payments to suppliers. She reports to Michael who is her father in-law.
5.5.6 Greg Morris, Accounts Receivable (Sales Ledger) Clerk is responsible for inputting all data into the Accounts Receivable ledger and for Credit Control. The duties include chasing customers for payment, working out discounts and sending out monthly customer statements.
5.5.7 Alan Cook, Costing Technician is responsible for operating Inkwell Ltd.’s costing system. He has to work closely with the Sales Director as Inkwell uses a target costing system. The Sales Director advisors Alan what the market price is of an ink cartridge, Inkwell then takes of its required profit margin to arrive at a price which the cartridge has to be manufactured at. Alan then monitors the cost and profitability of each cartridge and advises management from variance to targets.
5.5.8 Sharon Ward, BA (Hons), Payroll and Personnel Database Clerk is responsible for running both monthly and weekly payroll. She also issues all statutory submissions required by HMRC. She uses the SAGE payroll system and makes sure the Personnel database is always up to date.
6. Review of the Accounting System
6.1 This report makes recommendations to enhance the accounting system used by Inkwell Ltd and analysis it.
6.2 The weaknesses have been identified in the SWOT analysis and expanded in Appendix 2. This section also investigates the system within the context of the financial reports the accounting system should provide to the stakeholders like suppliers, financier and whether it is suitable to meet their and the company’s needs.
6.3 Working Methods and practices
6.3.1 The accounting system comprises of 8 computers which are all linked to the same printer.
6.3.2 Sage Payroll is used as the payroll system to calculate weekly and monthly salaries and wages. Quickcost is used as the costing system.
6.3.3 The inventory information is operated within excel.
6.3.4 Bank reconciliation statements and receipts are produced manually.
6.3.5 All work within the system is password protected, using a general password ‘Go Green’.
6.3.6 Part time employees within the accounts department are not always present and therefore may lead to delays in the day to day work to be fully completed on time and there is no necessity for them to all be in the office at the same time. Working overtime by part time staff to catch up on work will cost the company, as Inkwell would need to pay more overtime hours.
6.3.7 Having no backup in the company, reflects lack of plan and vision, because once an employee is not around the work stops.
6.3.8 Keeping cheques and cash on the premises overnight is a great risk to the organisation.
6.4 Record Keeping Systems
6.4.1 Weakness in the record keeping system was recognised in the SWOT analysis (appendix 2).
6.4.2 Errors and inaccuracies may possibly be found due to the shortage of skilful staff covering for those who are absent, therefore less skilful staff will attempt to cover in their absence leading to errors and inaccuracies.
6.4.3 The manual reconciling of bank statements may cause errors and is slow compared to using a computer or reconciling tool.
6.4.4 The manual upkeep of staff clock-in times may lead to underpayment or overpayment of salaries/wages. Underpaying will lead to staff demotivation and overpaying will lead to Inkwell Ltd paying overtime which was not deserved.
6.5.1 The SWOT analysis in Appendix 2 analyses the weaknesses within the system.
6.5.2 Training periods are too short and may lead to inaccuracies, errors and employees will not be confident doing the job, which may lead to them becoming despondent and frustrated.
6.5.3 The employment of unqualified or incompetent staff may cause massive confusion and inaccuracies.
7. Internal Control and Analysis of Fraud
7.1. Internal Control
7.1.1. Leaving cash and cheques on the premises until the banking day will attract theft as highlighted in the SWOT analysis (Appendix 2) which analysis the weakness within the system.
7.1.2. The time sheet clocking system is very manual and based upon trust. An automated system will benefit the accounting system and diminish the chance of fraud.
7.1.3. There are no authorisation procedures in place for payment to suppliers.
7.1.4. Customers paying via internet by giving debit or credit card details is high risk as it leaves room for identity theft.
7.1.5. Any member of Inkwell limited staff is able to access the computers due to one password being used for all computers, therefore no restrictions are in place for the staff to utilise the computers for personal usage.
7.2. Fraud Analysis
7.2.1. Leaving cash and cheques on the premises until banking day is a fraud risk, as it could temp staff to steal and believe that they could get away with it.
7.2.2. One person is responsible for petty cash, cash book, month end trail balance and inventory control this could lead to fraudulent transactions. There is also currently no review process in place.
7.2.3. There are currently no access restrictions in place, as unauthorised staff members can access the systems. The one password across all computers make accessing the systems easy for anyone which leaves room for fraudulent activities.
7.2.4. The manual submissions process of timesheets relays on a trust system which exposes the Company to fraudulent timesheet submitted and in return over or underpays staff their wages/salaries.
7.2.5. The use of unlicensed computers is a fraudulent and criminal offense which could result in huge penalty costs to the Company.
7.2.6. The purchases and inventory systems current review process leaves room for fraudulent activity as it is not done on a monthly basis and errors or possible fraud will be picked up very late or not at all.
7.2.7. All of these potential fraud, current controls in place and recommendations to improve can be found in the fraud matrix (Appendix 3).
8. Recommendations to Improve
8.1. Staff needs to be employed with the relevant qualifications in order to be competent in their roles and responsibilities in order to deliver the best results for the Company as well as act as back-up when others are absent. This will give confidence to external stakeholders to invest in the Company if it is well equipped with qualified competent staff.
8.2. Implement a policy that each computer should have its own password as this will restrict all staff members from being able to openly access all computers and also hold them accountable upon investigation (where applicable).
8.3. Adequate training should be provided to staff in order for them to be confident in their roles, which will able them to work efficiently and be more productive.
8.4. All approved payments should be thoroughly monitored especially the material or large amounts, as this will prevent fraud of overstating purchases/price as was done by the purchasing manager who went against the Directors instructions.
8.5. The use of an automated clock-in system will be useful as it will prevent fraud and log the exact hours worked which will prevent over and under payment of staff wages and salaries.
8.6. The use of an accounting package like Pastel, should be implemented as this will minimise errors and save time. This will also automate reconciliations.
8.7. Security systems should be implemented (camera etc.) in order to minimise theft especially around cash and cheques.
8.8. Inkwell Ltd should do daily banking as opposed to holding cash and cheques for day on end. Keeping large sums of cash and cheques on the premises poses a huge risk not only for internal theft but exposing the Company to external robbery as well.
9. Cost Benefit Analysis
9.1. A cost benefit analysis of the recommendation to employ qualified staff and training, monitoring of purchases, implementation of automated clock-in system, implementation of Security system and everyday banking. This has been completed as follows:
9.2.1. Adequate qualified staff is needed to act as assistants. New staff should be employed as clerk assistants, this will take a bit of time to implement initially however when the new staff are properly trained and settled in to their new roles, the Company will see the benefits.
9.2.2. Adequate training should be provided to staff who carries out work on the current account packages like Payroll and Personnel data base. Inkwell Ltd will have to choose the best Institutions with reasonable fees to train their staff accordingly. This will not only be beneficial to staffs own knowledge growth but also facilitate them with receiving their full salary on days they will be at training.
9.2.3. Monitoring the purchase would require a clerk to carry out an audit type piece of work where certain samples of purchases are chosen and investigated and then signed off by senior management.
9.2.4. Inkwell Ltd will need to install an automated clock-in system which should be a link to the Payroll system and should preferably be something that has a type of access card which is user friendly and simple to use in order to prevent any disruptions in the workplace.
9.2.5. Inkwell Ltd should compare quotes with different security companies in order to fund the one best suited. Security equipment such as cameras, alarms, beams, electric fencing etc. should be installed. The installation process should be done after hours to minimise disruption in the office during normal working hours.
9.3.1. The benefit the system will bring are less tangible, so harder to value but possible benefits have been quantified below.
9.3.2. Employing qualified assistants will fill the gap, especially when others are on sick leave and this will prevent stagnation in production. This might help with client retention, as clients will be given professional service at all times.
9.3.3. The reputation of Inkwell Ltd will be enhanced due to the professional service received by clients from trained staff. The staff will also feel valued, as the company is willing to invest in them, by sending them on the necessary training.
9.3.4. The use of an automated clock-in system will enable accuracy in the payroll department and will reduce queries from staff regarding salaries/wages and fraudulent overtime submissions, which will save the company money.
9.3.5. The use of a security company’s service will reduce the amount of theft and will safeguard Inkwell Ltd.’s assets. The properties of Inkwell Ltd will be secured, but not fully due to inherent risks of assets like cash. The security company will also provide assistance with cash in transit on its way to the bank.