Archive for January, 2012

By Emily Sanderson

Many auditors use more than a checklist to review an organization’s accounting activities, according to “The CPA Journal.” With the amount of high-level fraud cases in recent years, auditors, both internal and external, are held to higher scrutiny if problems are detected. Prepare for an audit throughout the year by establishing and maintaining your organization’s accounting policies, from how petty cash is handled to the methodology used to report quarterly and annual earnings.

Establish an Accounting Policy
In your organization, establish policies for handling petty cash, reimbursement request documentation, the calculation of payroll checks and disbursements, reporting profits, bank statement reconciliation, and what reports should be generated on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. See the references section of this article for a link to a sample checklist.

Whether your organization is small or large, any policy established should involve all the necessary decision makers, such as the CEO, CFO or board of directors.

Refer to Existing Policies
Use existing policies from other organizations as a guide. The more research that is conducted, the better chance you will cover all your bases. Then modify your policy to meet your specific accounting needs.

Existing policies may be found online through a simple search. Accounting policies for local governmental agencies can be accessed through GRAMA (Government Records Access Management Act) by submitting a written request in person or by mail. Many accountants have knowledge of general accounting policies for companies in which they have worked. In the United States, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) also provide helpful guidelines.

Reduce Liability
Reduce liability by requiring your managerial staff, accountants, internal auditors, and in-house counsel to sign contracts that require them to be honest and accurate in company dealings, essentially transferring some of the liability to them if your company is ever faced with charges of a white-collar crime.

Update Policy Regularly
Update your policies to meet changes in laws and the accounting standards that you use. Do this by maintaining the certifications of your organizations’ CPAs, and subscribe to accounting and other business journals. For example, the interpretation of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation has been a subject of debate since it calls for additional checks and balances that may require a company to hire more accountants.

If your company issues stock, staying up to date in such changes is particularly important, as your accounting methods affect those individuals and organizations that purchase shares of your stock. Publicly traded entities in the United States must provide timely and accurate quarterly and annual reports (10-Qs and 10-Ks, respectively) to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are then available as a public record.



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By Emily Sanderson

If you are ready to go to college but aren’t sure what to major in yet, consider taking general education coursework (GEs) first. By taking general education classes early in your college experience, you can get a taste for a variety of career paths, and this can help you decide which field interests you most.

General education, or liberal arts, classes are required in most associate or bachelor degree programs, whether you attend a traditional university, trade school, community college or enroll in one of many online degree programs. These GEs include classes such as English composition, college algebra, psychology, biology and a foreign language.

Often general education classes are also prerequisites for undergraduate or graduate programs, so if you get a good grade in a course, you may qualify to enter a particular major at a traditional university. These classes may serve as prerequisites for more than one major. For example, both medical students and veterinary science students must complete GE biology coursework. Physics classes are required for information technology and most engineering programs.

You must often determine your major upfront when you attend an online or trade school, but many schools will accommodate you if you later decide you would rather pursue another program the school offers. In this case, coursework you completed in your first program may be applied towards your degree as GE credits instead.

Some programs require you to choose an emphasis in the more advanced coursework you complete, and deciding which emphasis to pursue may require taking a variety of classes to give you an idea about what each option entails. That coursework may either apply towards your major or be counted as GEs.

Traditional universities emphasize that the wide range of general education courses they offer will give you a well-rounded education that will benefit you throughout your life. Many online universities and trade schools also recognize the value of GEs and offer a variety of classes as well. Ideally, you will be able to apply the knowledge you gain in GEs directly to your career. The classes you’ve taken may also help you understand current events in the news, or they may simply help you relate to others’ viewpoints in polite conversation.

General education classes you’ve taken can provide you with transferable skills that will be beneficial when you are changing jobs or pursuing a career change later in life. Even if a class simply gives you a basic understanding of a discipline, it will often give you an advantage over other job applicants.

General education can also help you grasp the work performed by your coworkers or the employees you supervise in a management position later in your career. For example, if you’ve taken an accounting class, you will know that the bookkeeper or controller of your company likely maintains balance sheets that help show the state of the company’s finances.

General education courses may teach very different information than the classes in your degree program, but the knowledge you gain from them will help you in your career and throughout your life. At minimum, they will give you a well-rounded perspective on various fields of study and will help you understand what role your field of study plays in the larger picture.


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