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Internal Controls Best Practices


While you cannot control what affects your business from the outside, you can (mostly) control what affects your business from the inside. Internal controls not only protect the financials of your business, they also ensure compliance with policies and procedures, track the efficiency of how your resources are used, and indicate whether or not your goals are met. While businesses typically have existing internal controls in place, many are lacking the full scope of what should be included.

Internal controls are typically organized around five main parts:

 

Control Environment

By focusing on the control environment, your business sets the tone for what employees should expect and what is expected of them. This includes the mission, values and philosophy of your business. The key leadership within your business needs to adhere to these environmental standards and establish an environment that is organized to foster growth within your staff and your business.

 

Risk Assessment

By assessing the risks of your business, you will be able to better identify and manage internal and external sources that could slow or prevent the success of your business. These include risks to your accounting and audit processes, compliance and your risk of fraud.

 

Control Activities

Control activities are policies and procedures to support the success of business objectives and to mitigate risks previously identified.  This includes employee training and outlining the roles and responsibilities of each person.

 

Information and Communication

Information and Communication is essential for employees to fully understand and carry out their assigned activities in the internal control process.

 

Monitoring

Monitoring is important to catch inherent risks such as reoccurring issues or too many (or too few) people managing a system. It is also necessary when there is a change in personnel or processes or significant business growth.

Without internal controls, it is difficult to track the efficiency of your operating departments and how your business is performing. There is also a greater chance that your financial reports will be inaccurate and youíre less likely to be compliant with laws or regulations that apply to your business. By having internal controls in place, you have more control over how your business operates, set standards of behavior for employees and ensure the success of your businessí processes.