1. TERMS OF REFERENCE
1.1 This report reviews and investigates Inkwell Ltd’s accounting system in relation to establishing and setting recommendations in order to conclude that its system and controls are enhanced as well as protected to minimize the risk of fraud. 1.2 The report investigates the main stakeholders of the organization at large both internal and external as well as the information it needs it has from the system. 1.3 Recommended costs and benefits are analyzed together with the risk of fraud towards the organization. 1.4 Lastly the report is part of the AAT level 4 Diploma in Accounting.
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
2.1 The report reviews the internal control within the accounting system of Inkwell Limited and recommendations to upgrade them. Findings are concluded that Inkwell Ltd ought to employ enough, fully trained staff with relevant qualifications and work full time as well as following company’s policies. Training staff results in having competent staff which will reduce confusion and enhance confidence of employees in their work. 2.2 The report recommends that accounting system ought to be improved so as to develop controls for the operations of the organization like password access, authorization and attendance record by purchasing clock cards so that the risk of fraud can be minimized too. 2.3 The report recommends that Inkwell Ltd ought to buy an electronic generator which will act as a reserve during time of power cut such that vital information of the company is always protected even if there is power cut.
3.1 A research from books and internet was used as reference in order to come up with this report and it was based on the case study. 3.2 A fraud matrix was used to investigate the potential of fraud within the accounting system and protecting controls in practice by analyzing them. 3.3 Reviewing the existing accounting system over a period of three months to enable a SWOT analysis to be produced was also used to plan and investigate the report.
4. INTRODUCTION TO THE ORGANISATION
4.1 Inkwell Ltd is a large company in Birmingham supplying complete range of re-manufactured inkjet and laser tower cartridges to small retailers and large trade customers. It is a limited company established seven years ago by two of its controlling shareholders, Paul Farnon and Victoria Dawson. So far it has revenue of over £16 million, 80% being from small retailers while 20% is from large trade customers. It employs around 180 full time employees and 2 part time staff at the head office. 4.2 Inkwell Ltd has grown since the founders of it realized the need to have more professional Accounting expertise like Finance Director and other diverse clerks. The two of Inkwell Ltd’s directors has experience of dealing with this type of business from their prior companies they have worked for.
4.3 The organization has relatively flat structure with two supervisors reporting to the directors and then further clerks reporting to their supervisors. The leadership style used is consultative where combination of democratic and autocratic is involved. Appendix 1 expands the structure in full. 4.4 The accounts system is a centralized system consisting of 28 computers in head office site and 60 in shops/branches where online shops are opened 24/7.The inventory control system is based around on excel spreadsheet, the sage payroll system for payroll calculations and windows vista operating system is used. The password “Go Green” has been used and currently in use to log on all the computers of the company. In head office site every member of staff has his/her own computer whether full/part time whereas in branches each computer and printer is shared by 3-4 member of staff that are for part time.10% discount is given against the cost of a replacement cartridges if old ones are brought by a customers. 4.5 External regulation affecting the organization
4.5.1 The Company’s Act 2006-This sets out the way in which financial statements should be prepared so Inkwell Ltd will have to comply with this Act to mitigate all possible fines that might arise. 4.5.2 UK Accounting Standards-This defines procedures and approaches to the preparation of financial statements that the organization must take. They are either known as Statements of Standard Accounting Practices (SSAPs) or Financial Reporting Standard (FRSs) depending on when they were issued. 4.5.3 International Regulations such as International Accounting Standard (IAS) and International Financial reporting Standards (IFRSs) issued by the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB)-Inkwell Ltd will have to follow these regulations to have confidence in accounting.
4.5.4 The data Protection Act 1998-The fundamental principle of confidentiality is related to this act and this regulates how Inkwell Ltd processes and stores information of customers, suppliers and employees so as to minimize possible penalties. 4.5.5 Late Payment law-Inkwell Ltd ought to pay its suppliers on time as this is set out in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act 1998 so as to eradicate the possibilities of being sued and loosing reputation. 4.5.6 Health and Safety Legislation-Inkwell Ltd is obliged to teach its staff how to withstand some of the outcomes that are safety related since harmful substances (Ink) are used and the toner cartridges has some devices that are connected with controlled light and rays. Procedures of dealing with this matter are essential to protect people against any harmful effect. 4.6 Inkwell Ltd-Key external stakeholders
4.6.1 Customers-The customers of Inkwell Ltd are into two categories being small retailers and large trade customers who purchase re-manufactured inkjet and toner cartridges. They expect to be provided with quality service at discounted, reasonable prices. This is happening as they are given 30-60 days of credit after a trial of three months of paying with purchase order. Price lists and credit terms might also be required. 4.6.2 Suppliers-The Company is supplied with re-manufactured inkjet and toner cartridges. Suppliers will require Inkwell Ltd to pay them on time but since Inkwell Ltd operates with relatively small number suppliers, payments period can be extended without complaint. Financial information can be required by suppliers to enable them to decide whether to work with Inkwell Ltd. 4.6.3 Financier/Bank-Producing series of business plans enables Inkwell Ltd to
raise enough finance from their banks to expand the business. Financial statements like Income Statement may be needed by the bank.
5. THE ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT
5.1 Inkwell Ltd has an Accounts Team based in the head office on an Industrial Estate in Birmingham where information from its branches is compiled and processed. All computers are accessed by the password “Go Green” and reporting does take place to the relevant authorities. The accounts department is highly privileged to have top management like finance director and accountant. 5.2 The purpose of Inkwell Ltd’s accounts department is to complete all activities relating to the production of the accounts including sales and purchases ledgers, payroll and costing. This department has its own weaknesses identified included in appendix 2 and structure in appendix 1. 5.3 The accounts department-Key internal stakeholders
5.3.1 Paul Farnon, owner1(Managing Director)-As the owner and managing director of Inkwell Ltd, Paul will have to strive for the success of the company including managing accounts department. The way Farnon manages will determine where the company is heading. Since Paul has held top position as the UK general sales manager in a major manufacturer of printers (Hewlett Packard), this reflects an advantage to the accounts department and company at large since he has experience. 5.3.2 Victoria Dawson,owner2(Sales Director)-As being another owner, Victoria is obliged to contribute in the success of the accounts department since she once worked as a Marketing Manager for Rymans,a major office supplies retailer in the same industry so Victoria will use previous experience to help accounts department especially in sales of the company. 5.3.3 Anil Gupter, owner3 (Finance Director)-Anil is also expected to deliver a good service looking at the fact that he did not changed his rank of being Finance Director unlike other directors when he moved from Epson, a large manufacturer of printer and printers cartridges to Inkwell Ltd.
Anil was needed to have more professional accounting expertise since the production of the company was showing that circulation of money has expanded. Anil’s main responsibility is to manage all finance, legal and accounting procedures and system. Gupter has Bsc, FCMA qualifications. 5.3.4 Michael O’Payne (Company Accountant)-Michael is responsible for managing the work of the accounting technicians and clerks running the transactions accounting system comprising of purchase, sales and general ledger,costing,payroll and personnel database management system. The fact that Michael has been the company’s accountant ever since it was established, it means he understand and familiar with each and every transaction relating to accounts department. Michael has ACCA qualifications. 5.3.5 Michelle Labelle (General ledger & Inventory clerk)-Michelle’s main roles is to keep financial control over company’s inventories, review daily reports from shop managers, enter all data into general ledger to produce trial balance. Labelle also monitors orders to suppliers placed by Purchase Manager.
Michelle has no accounting qualifications but once worked as trainee personnel officer in France. 5.3.6 Liana Khan (Purchase Ledger Clerk)-Liana is responsible for entering all suppliers’ invoices and credit notes into the purchase ledger and arranges payments to suppliers. Liana has foundation level 2 AAT qualifications and is keen in studying for her intermediate level 3 AAT. Khan is employed part time of 20 hours a week and has once worked as Sales Ledger Clerk. 5.3.7 Greg Morris (Sales Ledger Clerk)-Morris input all data into sales ledger and sends monthly statement to trade customers. He once worked for Rymans where Victoria Dawson was working. Greg was a purchase ledger clerk. He has no accounting/credit control qualifications but wishes to have one. Morris is employed on part time 20 hours a week basis.
5.3.8 Alan Cook (Costing Technician)-Alan is responsible for operating Inkwell Ltd’s costing system since the company was formed. Cook has no accounting qualifications and not willing to have one but before joining Inkwell Ltd he was a Purchase and Sales ledger clerk. 5.3.9 Sharon Ward (Payroll & Personnel Database Clerk)-Sharon’s main responsibility is to run Inkwell Ltd’s two payrolls, a monthly payroll for management and salaried staff as well as a weekly payroll for hourly paid staff. She also issues all statutory forms required by HMRC and UK tax authorities and lastly maintain the personnel database. Sharon has BA (Hons) and AAT foundation level 2 accounting qualifications and willing to study for her AAT intermediate exams. Ward once worked as a holiday company resort representative.
6. REVIEW OF THE ACCOUNTING SYSTEM
6.1 This report analyses the accounting system that are used by Inkwell Ltd and makes recommendations to enhance it. 6.2 The weakness have been identified with the aid of SWOT analysis expanded in appendix 2.This section also investigates the system within the context of the financial reports the accounts system should provide to stakeholders like suppliers, financier and whether it is suitable to meet their, and company’s needs. 6.3 Working methods and practices
6.3.1 The system in Inkwell Ltd’s accounts department comprises of 8 computers running on an integrated basis and are all linked to the same printers. Inventory information is operated within excel and the payroll system uses sage payroll to calculated the weekly and monthly wages and salaries.Quickcost is used for costing system. Monthly bank reconciliation statement and receipts is produced manually. 6.3.2 All work within the system is password sheltered, using a general password through the organization ‘Go Green’. 6.3.3 Weakness in the working methods and practices within the system at Inkwell Ltd are detailed in the SWOT analysis in appendix 2 as: -Some of the staffs are part time so this can delay day to day work to be fully completed on time since they are not always present and there is no necessity in place for them to all be in the office at the same time. -Employing incompetent staff exposes the company to a great risk of performing poorly since it will be hard to withstand the changes of the profession like being familiar with international standards.
Working overtime by part time staff to catch up with the work will cost the company. This may also accumulate errors within Inkwell Ltd and stakeholders like bank, suppliers may resist dealing with them and the reputation of the company may possibly downgrade gradually. -Having no assistants in the company reflects lack of plan and missing the bigger picture because once an employee is not around it means the work stops since there is no a reserve. Keeping cheques and cash in the premises for more than a night is a great risk. -Tendency of backing up the system once instead of twice provided that the policy states that, this may result in loosing critical information to be used in various cases like verification and this will be regarded as failure to retain records. -The use of same password for the entire company tend to be a secret uncovered because once one computer is logged on, automatically it is possible to log on the rest of the computers of which is unsafe to the side of Inkwell Ltd. 6.4 Recording keeping system
6.4.1 Weaknesses in the record keeping system were recognized as component of the SWOT analysis in appendix 2. -Errors, assumption, inaccuracy may possibly be found for the reason that there is shortage of skillful staff to cover for those who are absent so employees with inappropriate skills will attempt to cover up therefore causing errors. -Reconciling monthly bank statement by hand may cause errors and it is quite slow to do that compared to using computer. -Insufficient training period makes it hard to use new developed system like payroll so being self-doubting with the use of this new system will automatically generate incorrect information done by employees. -Having no attendance time record like clock cards may perhaps lead to underpaying which can decline the drive of employees and at the same time employees may be overpaid and Inkwell Ltd will have to use a lot of cash to pay overtime that were not deserved. 6.5 Training
The SWOT analysis in appendix 2 analyses the weaknesses within the system regarding training as follows: -Incompetent staffs are employed which can cause a massive confusion and inaccuracy particularly when workload boost and latest standards of profession are introduced. -Training periods are too short to maintain and attain new changes of the system like being familiar with the use of new payroll software thus causing lack of confidence upon employees.
7. INTERNAL CONTROL AND FRAUD ANALYSIS
7.1 Internal system of control
7.1.1 Within Inkwell Ltd controls resembling payments to staff is very informal. Dependence is habitually based upon trust. Formal controls will sustain the accounting system and diminish the chance of fraud. 7.1.2 The SWOT analysis in appendix 2 analyses the weaknesses within the system as: -Cash and cheques-leaving money and cheques in the premises until the banking day will definitely attract theft to take place since Inkwell Ltd is a huge company despite whether the money is placed in a save place. -Authorization-There are no effective authorization procedures put in place regarding matters like attendance records and monitoring payments to suppliers. Approved payments were reversed by employees like Purchase Manager. -Access-Since one password is used by Inkwell Ltd, any member of staff could use this password for personal reasons. -Payments-It’s very risky to let customers pay via internet by giving their debit/credit cards details 7.2 Fraud Analysis
7.2.1 Even though there is no confirmation of fraud having taken place within Inkwell Ltd Ltd, fraud is likely to occur within the system and proper controls ought to be in place to put off them. 7.2.2 The SWOT analysis in appendix 2 analyses the weaknesses within the system as: -Authorization-Some employees may tend to overstate hours worked and this is one way where fraud can occur due to lack of having no attendance time records. Monitoring all company’s expenditures like payments to suppliers are less monitored so fraud can find a way through this root as approvement was reversed by the Purchase Manager. -Password-Inkwell Ltd’s information may be extracted through having flexible access and then used to steal money from the company as critical information like bank details may be interrogated from the computers due to having same password.
-Cash and Cheques-Leaving cash and cheques in the premises until banking day may provoke fraud because some of the employees might get tempted to steal due to the nature of being closer to a lot of cash having a thought that it would not be identifiable. -Payments-Collecting payments over the internet can also lead to fraud as its quite risky to give debit/credit card details via internet because some people even employees may pretend as if they are Inkwell Ltd representatives by using different names from there take money for their own reasons not for company. 7.2.4 Each of these possible frauds, the contemporary controls in lay, and the recommendations to develop can be found within a fraud matrix in appendix 3.This matrix also comprises the level of risk to the business.
8. RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE
8.1 There are numerous recommendations that can be utilized to advance the weaknesses recognized over also in appendix 2. 8.1.1 Training-Training periods should be extended such that staff may be fully trained to use the system and operate it effectively. This will help them to gain confidence and morale in their work and their daily work will move a bit faster which lead to high productivity. 8.1.2 Policies-Since policies are ethics to channel decisions and accomplish rational outcomes and the source for employment contract with staff, all employees ought to comply with policies set to alleviate possible risks like losing vital information if the system backed once instead of twice. Regular meetings and workshops may facilitate to review the policies and mark the weak areas so that they can be strengthened. This will ensure that aims and target are met which is a good thing. 8.1.3 Attendance-The use of clock cards may be useful to record the exact hours worked for. This will prevent misstatement of time worked thus help the company not to overstate nor understate payments to employees.
8.1.4 Assistants and qualifications-Enough staff with relevant qualifications ought to be employed so that they can act as reserves when others are absent. This will make certain that external stakeholders are confident to invest in a company that is well equipped in terms of adequate and competent staff. 8.1.5 Advanced Accounting-The use of electronic accounting like pastel should be used to alternate reconciling monthly bank statement and entering receipts manually, this will help to save time and minimize errors. 8.1.6 Access-Inkwell Ltd should set a policy which states that each computer should have its own password so as to restrict access to all the entire computers, this will guarantee that company’s information is embraced.
8.1.7 Approve-All approved payments especially including big amount ought to be thoroughly monitored, this will put off fraud of overstating what it has been approved where people will take advantage of that like what the purchase manager did by changing approved deal. 8.1.8 Banking everyday is the best way for Inkwell Ltd rather than waiting until banking day looking at the fact that Inkwell Ltd generates a lot of money on daily basis, so keeping cheques and cash in the premises is a risk. Security Company will also have to be hired to protect all properties like cash. This will guarantee safety in the company. 8.1.9 Payments-Payments from customers when they are away should be done through post where cheques are sent and should be crossed ‘Account payee’. Names, address and business rates reference should be written properly and correctly. This will minimize delayed payments.
9. COSTS AND BENEFITS ANALYSIS
9.1 The recommendations after cost and benefit analyses to employ adequate, full time, qualified staff, purchase attendance record and bank every day. This has been completed as follows: 9.2 COSTS
9.2.1 Appropriate training staff is required for current account packages like payroll and personal database as well as training other accounts clerks like that one of sales ledger. Inkwell Ltd will have to choose the best institution with reasonable prices to train its staff. 9.2.2 There would be an opportunity cost of staff attending the training in that way they would not be available to complete their work but getting paid and therefore they are not generating chargeable hours. 9.2.3 Well qualified staff with relevant qualifications is required to act as assistants. New staff will have to be posted as clerks assistants. They will become a bit confused to operate in a new environment at first and time will be consumed as well but as time goes on they will adapt and adjust to a new working place.
9.2.4 Inkwell Ltd will require clock cards to record the attendance of the employees and the swiping machine for these cards will have to be connected to the system though this may cause a bit of disruption in the offices. Inkwell Ltd should choose a quality machine that is simple to use. 9.2.5 The electronic generator is needed to help during power cut. Connecting it to the entire accounts department will cause interruption as all connections will have to be switched off for a while. Prices and the quality of the generator should be compared from different shops to choose the best one. 9.2.6 Security company with advanced equipments like cameras, alarms is required for security services.
Connecting the security system will as well cause disturbance in the offices. The cost, quality, reliability of the security companies should be compared to see which one is suitable for Inkwell Ltd. 9.2.7 Other staff may be unhappy to see other being trained and this might cause less productivity, commitment, efficiency because they will become jealous. Extended induction of new staff can also cost the company as they are not available for work while some preparations are carried on. Finally ongoing training and extended induction will probably cause client’s dissatisfaction because there would be shortage of workforce thus declining reliability of clients to Inkwell Ltd.
9.3.1 The benefits the system will bring are less tangible, so harder to value but possible benefits have been quantified as follows: 9.3.2 The first benefit to Inkwell Ltd is that there will be staff competence as employees will now have relevant skills and knowledge thus leading to quality production and effectiveness. Self confidence will also be improved since they are flexible with their work. 9.3.3 The use of clock cards will enable the payroll department to be accurate in most times. This will also reduce queries from staff if their salaries are underpaid and time set for each employee will be utilized efficiently, unproven overtimes will no longer be found thus reducing cost for the company. 9.3.4 Availability of qualified assistants will then fill gap especially when others are not around due to reasons like sick leaves and this will help the production to keep moving. Clients will also be interested to be given professional service at any time.
Relationship between two parties is enhanced due to good cooperation found. 9.3.5 The use of electronic generator will create chances of not loosing critical information during power cut. Inkwell Ltd will always have necessary information needed by internal and external stakeholders. 9.3.6 Having a security services means Inkwell Ltd’s properties are secure but not fully due to inherent risks of some assets like cash. The use of alarms and cameras will reduce the chances of employees stealing. The security company will also help in escorting the cash and cheques while in transit to be banked. 9.3.7 Inkwell Ltd’s reputation is enhanced since clients are provided with professional service from trained and knowledgeable staff and at the same time staff feel valued to the investment in training them, their morale is as well improved.
APPENDIX 1-INKWELL (LTD)’S ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
APPENDIX 2-INKWELL (LTD)’S SWOT ANALYSIS
-Quick delivery from Inkwell Ltd no matter where the customer is. -Employees are paid on time because payroll and personnel database is presented to the bank by the 24th of each month. -There is nonstop trading by online shop since they operates 24/7 -Inkwell Ltd has directors with quality and full experience of dealing with type of business of printer cartridges. -More professional accounting expertise like accountant, financial director, clerks. -The use of centralized accounting system enables Inkwell Ltd to decide decisions quickly and economies of scale as fewer staff overall are needed to complete work unlike if every branch had its own accounts employees. -Flexibility-employees are given chance of advising management in some areas like Alan Cook advised of variances from target. -Cheques are signed by any two of the company’s authorized signatories. -The use of BACS to pay staff is useful since its quick
-Giving staff commission is strength itself because their effectiveness and morale tend to improve. -There is a good credit control taking place since all customers that are overdue with their payments are contacted via telephone, written letter. -Good communication i.e. Michelle usually contact shop managers to know when the inventory gets above three days’ holding. -The use of advanced accounting packages like payroll will minimize the errors.
-Shortage of staff as well as employing unqualified staff results in poor performance, productivity. Reputation of Inkwell Ltd is at high possibilities of being destroyed. -Short training periods are not suitable for a big company like Inkwell Ltd this will limit employees’ confidence in their work e.g. one day training is not enough. -Inkwell Ltd’s policies are not followed which means they lack direction for example backup is supposed to be done twice a day rather than once. Lack of attendance time record will results in overstatement nor understating figures of hours worked since no control is to be found to record hours worked. -Payments including big amounts are not well monitored, for example Purchase Manager changed what was approved by management that there were to be no increases in prices conceded this year at all but he reversed that, this reflects that follow up was not involved. -Some of the management become reluctant to attend other matters like that one Chapman where there was discrepancies involving big amount and he failed to attend the matter.
-Procrastination of some vital areas-differences were caused because the list of people to have access to the general ledger was not yet set so everyone could access. -Some management like Purchase Manager is short sighted because purchase order processing module had to be bought so that some details of some transactions may not be deleted but Peter concluded it as a waste of money. -The use of one computer by 3-4 part time employees is too bad because it influences less productivity, efficiency since it cannot be used simultaneously so others will have to wait for other to finish and it discourages self independence in workplace. -Recording receipts and reconciling bank statement manually may possibly accumulate errors and consume a lot of time. -Tension between management like that one of accountant and Finance Director may discourages internal relationship and cooperation(team work).The company will suffer since by the time they are obliged to discuss something important they will deliberately become pig-headed.
-Customers are helped to have no history of poor payments so this may enhance the reliability of customers to the company and more customers will be attracted gradually. -There is an opportunity of training staff meaning by the time of completing those studies they will bring huge input that is acquired from outside. -Inkwell Ltd is given an opportunity by suppliers to pay a bit late and this will help Inkwell Ltd to use the money that was to be paid for other like to pay overdraft if there is any. This will also improve cash position
-Data Protection Act 1998-Inkwell Ltd is likely to face penalties of failing to keep records since it has the tendency of not keeping records. -Family commitments-Some employees may have family commitments that force them to take some breaks like when family members e.g. when children are sick. This will mean task at work will have to wait especially when company does not have assistants. Some will even take sick leave. -The use of unqualified staff is a huge threat since customers may possibly report that they are not given complete service that match with what they have paid for. This may be reported to consumer affairs and Inkwell Ltd might be penalized.
-Power cut may provoke the loss of vital information and Inkwell Ltd may fail to present relevant wanted by external stakeholders e.g. banks so in this way the company may miss so many chances of opportunities or either be penalized for failing to present information to be used for legal purposes. -There is possibility of theft to take place in the company since Inkwell Ltd is generating a lot of money. -Trading via online might possibly become because it’s a great risk since some may claim to become part of Inkwell Ltd so that they may receive money that was not entitled to them.
APPENDIX 4-INKWELL (LTD)’S TECHNICAL NOTES
1) Income Statement-In the context of Inkwell Ltd this will show the owner of the business, sales revenue/income received as well all the cost incurred in the accounting period which will be deducted from the income to arrive at the profit of Inkwell Ltd.This will help the owner to make right decisions and analysis as costs and revenue that has huge impact in the income statement will be highlighted.
2) Statement of Financial Position-Current, non current assets, short term liability and long term liability like loans will be laid down. All liabilities will be added and deducted from all assets for which the amount should be equal to the capital invested in the company by the owners and profit from Income Statement. This will help in terms of planning of how long will the liabilities be paid and when to sell non current assets, how to control receivables.
3) Fraud Detection- The use of regular checking and investigating all discrepancies to conclude what could have went wrong can be one way of detecting fraud. Forensic accountants can as well be useful where investigations will be carried out scientifically. Effective procedures and strategies that are meant to eradicate fraud can be useful in the organization so owners and employees will not want to be associated with fraud cases.
4) Impact of fraud-Fraud can become strong usually if it’s done by the owners of the business, this will include theft of cash, inventory as well as time meant for businesses’ purposes, owners and employees may use business time for their personal activities and this will reduce profitability, production, and effectiveness in the company. Fraud can become a way of life for a business where trustworthy within the business is eroded. Some will be scared of whistle blowing if they are not protected.