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Bad Books = Bad Plans: How Not Knowing Financial Positions Leads To Bad Decisions

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Managing finances is one of the most critical aspects of running a business. Regularly reconciling financial records can be a tedious and time-consuming task, but failing to do so can lead to significant problems down the line. In this blog post, we will discuss the dangers of not reconciling business finances regularly and provide examples of US companies that have suffered penalties and made poor decisions due to inaccurate financial positions.

One of the most significant risks of not reconciling business finances regularly is the potential for financial fraud. According to a report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, businesses lose an average of 5% of their annual revenue to fraud. Without proper reconciliation of financial records, it becomes easier for employees to manipulate financial data to hide fraudulent activity. In 2020, an accounting manager for a Texas-based oil and gas company was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling over $8 million. The fraud went undetected for years due to the lack of regular financial reconciliation.

Inaccurate financial records can also lead to costly penalties and legal action. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires businesses to file accurate tax returns, and failure to do so can result in significant fines and penalties. In 2019, a California-based technology company was hit with a $100 million penalty for failing to report income on their tax returns. The inaccurate financial statements provided by the company were a significant factor in the penalty.

Furthermore, not reconciling business finances regularly can lead to poor decision-making. Without accurate financial data, it is difficult to make informed decisions about the direction of the business. In 2018, Sears filed for bankruptcy, citing years of losses due to poor decision-making. The company had failed to invest in e-commerce and had made several acquisitions that ultimately led to significant losses. The failure to reconcile financial records regularly likely contributed to the poor decision-making that led to the company's downfall.

In conclusion, regularly reconciling business finances is critical to the success of any organization. The risks of not doing so are significant, including financial fraud, penalties and legal action, and poor decision-making. Many companies in the US, such as the three mentioned above, have all suffered due to inaccurate financial records. By reconciling financial records regularly, businesses can avoid these pitfalls and make informed decisions to drive their success.

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