• Find the right person - take some time interviewing potential candidates for your bookkeeping position. Check their references to see what type of person they are - not only professionally but personally as well. They will be dealing with sensitive financial information so you want an honest professional.
• Limit your bookkeeper's access and make sure you have checks and balances in place - a bookkeeper should not autonomously have the ability to sign cheques, make bank withdrawals, use bill pay etc. Those are managerial tasks that you should not delegate as a business owner. Have your financial tasks spread out across at least two parties, yourself included. Do not let a bookkeeper enter bills and then make the payments. Those are poor bookkeeping procedures and they leave your business vulnerable to theft. Even in a small businesses the bookkeeper should only set EFT payments up in the online banking system awaiting authorization, and management should provide that final authorization to lodge the transactions to.
• Offer some incentive (admin employees) - if your bookkeeper is "in on the action" they will be less likely to steal from you. If you are happy with your bookkeeper offer them some sort of profit share or bonus scheme, even if it is low something is better than nothing. This way they will be working with you to make your company as profitable as possible.
• Audit your bookkeeper - I call this one the old switcher - turn the tables on your bookkeeper and audit them. This can be very subtle and can be as easy as constantly staying involved. By asking to see copies of invoices, receipts etc. it shows that you are involved and "watching" the books. Randomly ask your bookkeeper to bring you all petty cash receipts and make sure they can explain all of them. By staying involved with the day-to-day bookkeeping activities the less likely your bookkeeper is to even think of trying to steal from you.
It seems to me that a bookkeeper would only steal from an employer if they felt left out, or unfairly compensated. By involving your bookkeeper in the business you may reduce their desire to steal from you. Also, the only way to make sure that your bookkeeper is not stealing from you is to have proper bookkeeping procedures that have checks and balances. By staying involved in the day-to-day bookkeeping you will demonstrate that it may be difficult to sneak something by you.
Outsourcing your bookkeeping is a great solution when you only need someone for a few hours per week or month, and do not want to employ someone full or part time. This way you get a skilled professional on board for only the hours that you need them, and by using a Registered BAS Agent you are assured that they are covered by Liability Insurance and governed by a Professional Code of Conduct.
Been stolen from? Want to talk about better bookkeeping procedures? Feel free to drop me an email.