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Time to Reconcile: Importance of Bank Reconciliation and How a Bookkeeper Can Help

Are you reconciling your bank accounts once per year? This may get you ready for tax time, but annual bank reconciliation is just the beginning. In order to grow your business at a responsible rate, you need to get a clear picture of your cash flow, understand the types of fees you’re paying, and catch fraud before it goes too far to fix. 

When you’re doing catch-up bookkeeping instead of regularly reconciling your books, you may think you’re in better shape than you are. Imagine hiring a new full-time staff member only to learn you can’t afford them? Learn more about the importance of regular bank reconciliation and when to call in a bookkeeper. 

What is bank reconciliation?

Reconciling your bank records means comparing what the bank has on record with your own internal reports. If you have a bank feed with an accounting service, you still need to reconcile your bank feed with your official bank statement. 

A lot of transactions are included in a reconciliation. According to The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers in Australia, you should periodically reconcile your internal records against the records of:

  • Banks 
  • Credit Cards
  • Barter Cards
  • Bank Loans
  • Petty Cash
  • Cash Drawer
  • PayPal

Why do you need to reconcile your bank accounts?

Your accounting records are only as useful as they are accurate. Sounds obvious, right? You’d be surprised how much missed bank fees and other small discrepancies add up and how many business owners may wave them off as unimportant. In reality, bank reconciliation can save you thousands of dollars per year. Combined with double-entry bookkeeping, which creates two records of every transaction, regular reconciliation keeps your books tidy. 

Here are some of the reasons reconciling your bank statements is so important. 

A bookkeeper looks over a bank reconciliation statement.

Catching Discrepancies

Your internal ledger says you spent $10,000 last month, but your bank statement says you paid fees totalling $500. This difference may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but if you make the same mistake each month — you’ll be off by $6,000 by the end of the year! Discrepancies can result from honest human error or fraud. If someone is skimming money from one of your accounts, you’ll notice it faster with a monthly reconciliation process. 

Tracking Cash Flow

Reconciling accounts each month gives an accurate picture of the amount of cash flowing in and out of your accounts. You’ll see if you’re actually in the black — or just thought you were. You can also reconcile your credit card receivables as a part of this process to make sure that everything has cleared that was supposed to. 

Managing Accounts Receivable 

One major source of reconciliation discrepancies is a cheque that did not clear because the account had insufficient funds. Checking your accounts receivable as a matter of routine allows you to catch these problems so you can either rebill the vendor or customer or write off the discrepancy as a bad debt. 

Making Sure Payable Transactions Have Posted

Comparing your statement balance to your internal records often also lets you confirm that important transactions have posted to your account. It would be a shame to forget that you still have an outstanding cheque out in the world — you could easily overspend on an account when it finally posts. 

Finding Systemic Issues

If you notice a pattern of individual errors or discrepancies, you may also catch a structural issue within your accounting system. Perhaps you need to change payment services or use a different bookkeeper if the same issues arise time and again. 

How often should I reconcile my bank statements?

The Australian government only recommends that you reconcile accounts “regularly,” which is a bit vague. Ideally, you should reconcile your accounts each time you receive a bank statement. If your accounts bill on different schedules, an end-of-month reconciliation is a good habit to get into. 

How can a bookkeeping service help with bank reconciliation?

An outsourced bookkeeping service can provide reporting and insights that your current staff aren’t able to keep up with. Partners like Visory provide an outside set of eyes to give your company an objective view of your financial affairs while saving you time and internal resources. Your team gets to use the insights and reporting to make smart decisions without having to do any of the work to create them. We call an outsourced bookkeeping service a win-win.