Account Reconciliation Definition
The account reconciliation definition is the process of assuring that bank statements equal what a company expects from their internal accounting statements. It is required with every business that keeps financial statements. To explain simply, account reconciliations are making sure a checkbook balance matches bank statements. Taken to the next level, account reconciliation best practices include the following
- Collecting relevant account data like invoices
- Checking account balances, correcting these balances
- Finding discrepancies
- Controlling policy to prevent discrepancies
- And more
Account reconciliation procedures can be either simple or extremely complex depending on the size and scope of a company.
Account Reconciliation Explanation
To better explain account reconciliation, it is one of the most common yet important actions taken for managerial accounting. It is also important to reconcile balance sheet accounts at the end of a period (month, quarter, or year-end) as part of the closing process. Doing so helps to identify errors before closing. Balance sheet account reconciliation is the comparison of the account’s general ledger trial balance with another source, be it internal, such as a sub-ledger, or external, such as a bank statement. Differences caused by the timing of transactions, such as outstanding checks, are identified as reconciling items.
When preparing a general ledger reconciliation of an account to an aging different detail ledgers are used. Cash accounts are reconciled against a bank statement. Accounts receivable and accounts payable are reconciled against aging schedules. Inventory and fixed assets can be reconciled against a physical count.
Account Reconciliation Formula
There is no single account reconciliation formula. Depending on the processes of the company as well as the banking relationship, account reconciliation can occur in any number of ways. For a simplified formula, see below:
Balance per Bank Statements + Deposits in Transit – Outstanding Payments = Balance after Account Reconciliation
Account Reconciliation Calculation
Account reconciliation calculations, for the average business, are a straightforward process.
Balance after account reconciliation = $15,000 + $5,000 – $7,000 = $13,000
Account Reconciliation Process
Set up a reconciliation statement or reconciliation report in a spreadsheet, with the trial balance at the top of one column and the balance you will be comparing it to in the other column. Enter reconciling items below the appropriate balance and label it. When the sum of the two columns equals, then the account is reconciled.
Account Reconciliation Statement
Balance per general ledger (source #1):
Add(Less) Items in general ledger not
Add(Less) Items in detail not in
Balance per detail (source #2):
Compare Trial Balance with Aging Schedule
Compare the trial balance of receivables and payables with the balance of their respective aging schedules. If they are equal, move on to reconcile the next account. If not, move on to step two.
Review General Ledger Entries
If the trial balance is greater than the aging schedule balance, it is likely due to a journal entry posted directly to the general ledger instead of to the sub-ledger. Identify any such entries and move them to the sub-ledger. In addition, let the amount of the difference guide you in your reconciliation. For example, if the difference is $100, look for transactions whose size is close to that. If this does not resolve the difference, move on to step three.
Review Subsidiary Ledgers
Examine the sales journal (for receivables) and the purchases journal (for payables). Look for posted entries which were posted to the wrong account. This can be done by scanning the entries, looking for abnormal entries, such as credits to the receivables account or debits to the payables account. Examine any such entries to ensure that they are accurate. Look at the cash receipts and cash disbursements journals for receivables and payables, respectively. Again, scan for abnormal entries, such as debits to receivables or credits to payables. Use the unreconciled difference between the trial balance and the aging schedules to guide you. Repeat as needed, with an examination of the invoice register for accounts receivable and the purchase order journal for accounts payable.
Divide and Conquer
Should the account remain unreconciled, focus solely on one side of the transactions you examine in the journals and follow those debits and credits to the balance sheet account. First, print the general ledger detail for the accounts to be reconciled. Cross out the reversing or correcting entries. Print the subsidiary ledgers (either accounts receivable detail or accounts payable detail). Cross out the in and out correcting entries. Using a unique check mark trace the transactions from the general ledger to the subsidiary ledger and vice versus.
Examine unposted reconciling items. Then determine if they should be prior to close. If the account is not fully reconciled, but the difference is immaterial, then make an entry to adjust the general ledger account balance, as long as the impact is conservative. If the difference is material, examine the sub-ledgers and journals that are a part of the revenue and expenditure cycles to identify the problem.
Tips and Tricks
Transposition Error – If you have an unallocated difference and it is divisible by “9” then the error may be that you have transposed a number. For example; you may have entered a “10” rather than a “1”. (The difference is “9”)
Account Reconciliation Example
For example, Molly is an CPA for a small business. She appreciates her work because she enjoys projects which take advantage of her analytical and quantitative nature.
Performing Account Reconciliation Calculations
Next, she sits down to perform the calculations.
The company has a balance of $15,000 on Bank Statements; $5,000 deposits in transit; $7,000 in outstanding payments.
The balance after account reconciliation = $15,000 + $5,000 – $7,000 = $13,000
Molly performs the calculation again. Then, she performs the calculation a third time. No matter how many times she performs the calculation she gets the result of $13,000; $1,000 less than she should find. Molly does additional research and can not find any reason that this has happened.
Near the end of the day, she contacts her employer with the information. At their next meeting, she shows her process and her results. The company takes action because the results disturb them. So they contact the bank right away.
In conclusion, Molly appreciates her CPA training and looks forward to helping companies in the future.
Account reconciliation is just another way of checking your economics or financials. If you want to find out more about how you could utilize your unit economics to add more value to your organization, then click here to download the Know Your Economics Worksheet.
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