Bank reconciliation problems are as headache-inducing as they sound. The reconciliation process involves quite a bit of investigative work, which many find tedious. Still, companies must be aware of and know how to reconcile bank statements to maintain the financial health of their company.
We take a look at 5 common bank reconciliation problems and how to solve them in this quick-but-timely article.
What is bank reconciliation?
A bank reconciliation is a business process to ensure records are correct. During this process, business records such as the general ledger or balance sheet get compared to the amounts disclosed on the bank statements. When no differences are found between the two, the accounts are considered reconciled.
Further investigation is required for situations where the information between the company and bank records does not match. In such cases, the discrepancy needs to be justified or fixed.
What are the common types of bank reconciliation problems?
As a company goes through the bank reconciliation steps, there is a possibility of running into problems along the way. Here are 5 of the most common problems that arise and how to solve them.
Problem 1. Transaction delays
Banks usually do not process monetary transactions on the same day, whether the transaction is a check, electronic payment, ACH transfer, or wire transfer. Instead, the transaction waits to clear as the bank confirms funds and completes the process.
This transaction delay can cause a difference between a general ledger and the bank statement when a company performs a bank reconciliation. For example, the transaction completes after the end of the recording period—such as the end of the month or year. As a result, the business is likely to show more funds available—the transaction was logged under the date of payment—than the bank that waited until after the last day to post the transaction.
How to solve transaction delays in bank reconciliation
The best solution to a transaction delay is to book entries to reconcile the accounts for specific periods where they don’t match. The company will show an adjustment on statements for both date ranges to account for the difference.
Problem 2. Unrepresented checks
When an unrepresented check problem creeps up during reconciliation, it means checks the company issued weren’t cashed in before the end of the reporting period. This is considered one of the most predominant issues during bank reconciliations.
How to solve unrepresented checks in bank reconciliation
For a short while, these are easily fixed with a booked entry at the end of the reporting period to carry the check balance toward the next one. After 90 days, the company should take additional steps, the first of which should be to call the payee.
Problem 3. Errors
Errors happen for all sorts of reasons. For example, a deposit or check is recorded with the wrong amount. Sometimes, a transaction is not recorded altogether. Although these types of errors usually happen mostly in the company’s general ledger, they can also occur at the bank.
How to solve errors in bank reconciliation
Solving this problem is done by scrupulous attention to detail. When transactions get recorded, they should be double-checked to ensure accuracy. Once the error is made, the reconciliation must be completed one by one to find the error.
Problem 4. Unaccounted fees
Bank fees such as overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds fees cause bank reconciliation issues. Though such fees have to be kept in check through smarter money management, they can slip through the cracks.
How to solve unaccounted fees in bank reconciliation
Companies that find this happening too often should reconsider the bank they use for their monetary transactions. Find a bank with lower penalties or a more lenient fee schedule. However, to solve these, the transactions need to be accounted for in the general ledger.
Problem 5. Unauthorized withdrawals
Another way to say unauthorized withdrawals is fraud. Unauthorized withdrawals from an internal party, such as an employee or partner, defrauds a company and make it hard to carry on. Businesses must take proactive steps to guard against unauthorized withdrawals through a clear approval process.
How to solve unauthorized withdrawals in bank reconciliation
These situations should be planned for ahead of time. As an example, the person completing the reconciliation should not be the same person writing down transactions in a general ledger. The discrepancy between the general ledger and bank statement will remain until an adjustment gets recorded to account for the amount.
Frequently asked questions
There are five common reconciliation problems companies run into:
1. Transaction delays
2. Unrepresented checks
4. Unaccounted fees
5. Unauthorized withdrawals
In some instances, these problems are easier to fix than others, such as transaction delays or unrepresented checks. In those instances, it’s a matter of entering in the adjusting transactions for the right times.
A company needs to complete a bank reconciliation in a timely fashion for various reasons:
1. Finding fraud in case someone is hiding unauthorized transactions
2. Track funds, fees, and penalties
3. Accurate record-keeping for receivables and accounts payable
4. Detect various problems like missed payments or doubled transactions
Overall, the process helps double-check all of the financial statements a company will use for future financial decisions and even for raising funds.
A bank reconciliation is a process for matching business transactions to bank statements. Companies go through this process routinely to ensure the information is correct between both statements, to find any errors, and to prevent fraud.
Small business bank reconciliation problems happen to many companies despite the best processes for writing down transactions. In some instances, though rare, even the bank can have the transaction information incorrect, and this should be brought to their attention.
To ensure an unbiased review, it’s best to hire an external individual to perform the bank reconciliation. At the very least, the person going through the process should not be the same as the one that writes down transactions into the general ledger.
Interested in resources that will help you monitor the financial health of your company? Check out our mammoth list of 45+bookkeeping resources!
Agata Kaczmarek has held a passion for writing since early childhood. A professional writer for many years, Agata specializes in writing articles and blogs focused on finance as someone who holds a Master’s Degree in Accounting and Finance.
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