Is your company bleeding cash?
It’s clear from talking with specialists Bruno Roperto and and Paul Derbyshire from PCMG’s Accounts Payable Division that many very large companies are losing considerable sums of cash through undetected invoicing errors. “We tend to assume everything is wrong from the outset until it can be proven to be correct.” smiles Bruno. He’s not joking either. With €1bn recovered annually by the group for businesses around the world, accounts payable errors are a huge problem with potentially serious consequences. Paul explains further: “The focus of attention by the most senior staff is usually very much on accounts receivable - bringing in sales revenue, hitting objectives or getting fees paid and so on. The money being paid out to suppliers doesn’t enjoy the same level of scrutiny. It’s very commonplace.”
Interestingly therefore, the root of the problem is often more about human behaviour and motivation rather than any procedural failures per se. Bruno explains: “You don’t want to be the person who puts a stop to an expensive manufacturing process or gets a high profile ad campaign cancelled. Everybody likes to please.” This is the awkward dilemma many accounts payable staff find themselves in. They have an approved invoice to pay but perhaps there’s a duplicate or the purchase order doesn’t match.
“If you gave your teenager a credit card, would you be happy to just pay off your statement at the end of the month? Most of the time that’s exactly what happens. That’s where we come in.”
It would be natural to assume that very large organisations have robust procedures in place to prevent any overpayments from happening at all. In many cases they do but the procedures need to be followed by everyone in the chain. “If you rely heavily on the most junior processing staff to highlight every error and manage the consequence of stopping payments, then it’s asking for trouble.” says Bruno.
“ They don’t realise the potential impact of mistakes.”
Bruno Roperto Head of Accounts Payable Audit
Often in pure administrative roles (rather than being trained accountants), they’re under pressure to just get invoices processed due to company performance indicators. “Regardless of their position or role, when it comes to approving and paying company invoices, people don’t think of it as their money. They don’t realise the potential impact of mistakes.” Curiously, another red flag for problems is complex mergers between companies. According to Bruno, this often leads to duplication of departments and a culture of chaos and resentment. He explains: “Mergers lead to all kinds of procedures going out of the window. Fraudsters know this and will actively target merging businesses. There’ll be disgruntled employees facing redundancy who’ll happily talk to friends about the chaos in their accounts teams. Criminals have the perfect conditions to make a lot of money.” Does this mean most problems they encounter are criminals attempting to defraud companies? “Usually not. More often, it’s simply about people not feeling the love. For 99% of the time it’s not their fault.
It’s fair to say that accounts payable staff are generally not employed to be detectives and won’t be appreciated if they point out an error. If an invoice has approval from above on the automated system they work with, then they’ll just hit the key to pay. It’s completely predictable.” This is why the first step for PCMG is to understand the culture. By working directly within their client’s organisation the team can experience the day to day practices, relationships and understand the people. It’s far more revealing than purely working through the paper accounts.
What’s very clear is that many very large businesses are overpaying considerable sums annually and in the main, their most senior members of staff are unaware of it. An Accounts Payable Audit is the first line of defence for an organisation. By employing truly independent audit specialists like PCMG, overspends can be stopped in their tracks.
DIG DEEPER AND FIND OUT MORE ABOUT US ON PAGE 4
Depth like no other. As a specialist subsidiary of Ayming Group, PCMG is a world-class consultancy in financial health for organisations. Many companies are slowly bleeding precious cash through invoicing errors and overpayments. Our job is to restore financial health and maintain it for the future by looking more deeply at your operational expenditure and thoroughly checking every detail.
Ayming Group recovers
€1bn every year for its clients.
Our Accounts Payable specialism is at the heart of what we do. By employing the leading specialists in this complex area of cost management, we’ll identify and stop cashflow leaks in their tracks, seek to recover your money and optimise future arrangements.
These valuable refunds will boost cashflow, generate funding and alleviate budgetary pressure. We’ll then explain the historical and ongoing risks that have contributed, so you have a clearer insight into your Accounts Payable function and are able to avoid errors in the future.
All organisations will have accounts payable errors to manage. Our first step here is a forensic, 3-stage Accounts Payable Audit of historical spend, with the aim of identifying errors to provide a ‘clean bill of financial health’. We then secure the associated refunds on your behalf.
Initial client meeting to discuss pre-audit requirements:
Here’s how we’d approach a typical audit project:
• Agree the audit process • Present the proposed project plan • Agree project scope in detail • Confirm our Accounts Payable and IT contacts within your organisation • Secure letter(s) of authority and an exception list • We then receive an extract of your data, load it into our proprietary software system and perform initial quality assurance checks
PCMG 3-Stage Accounts Payable Audit including the following stages:
1 Accounts Payable Review • Review of all transactional data and locating erroneous errors • Liaising with suppliers to recover monies • Obtaining refunds and deductions on client’s behalf
2 Supplier Statement Audit • Contacting all suppliers to obtain a current statement • Identifying open items on supplier ledger • Liaising with suppliers to resolve overdue items • Obtaining refunds/deductions in relation to credit items
3 Audit Completion, including Management Report • A summary of findings throughout the review • Highlighting errors and advising of their root cause • Recommending corrective action to minimise errors and improve accounts payable processes
Accounts Payable Added Value Services
Error Prevention To avoid accounts payable errors creeping back in after a completed audit, our Error Prevention Service will mean you’re able to stop payments and reverse entries on a daily basis, ensuring all anomalies are corrected before they can negatively impact your business in any way.
Statement Reconciliation Liaising with suppliers, we will reconcile open items on your supplier and client ledger and cleanse your client database
Analytics & Management Reporting Our dedicated Accounts Payable Audit Team will analyse your spend to highlight areas and processes that can be improved. All our recommendations are presented in our Financial Information Report for Management (FIRM).
Training Our dedicated Accounts Payable Audit Team will train your staff to deal with any challenges/ queries from your suppliers, basing our programme on the kinds of issues your team regularly faces.
The FIRM report covers the following areas: • Supplier spend • Transaction volumes • Stratifications • Payment distributions
Insight Supplier Risk Analysis
To provide you with a complete picture of how your Accounts Payable Department is performing, we will compare your internal statistics with other companies within our intelligence database who operate the same ERP system, manage a similar spend overall and employ a similar number of people.
To help you stay on top of any potentially fraudulent activity, we will conduct a full review of all your suppliers, from the supplier details you hold, providing you with the right data to spot anything untoward.
Head of Accounts Payable Audit Bruno Roperto is a CIMA Qualified Accountant and leads PCMGâ€™s Accounts Payable Audit function, joining the company in 2014. Previously, Bruno served as Head of AP shared service centre for Wessex Water, Orange & Hutchison Pager and Lloyds TSB.
Senior Accounts Payable Analyst Paul has over 5 yearsâ€™ experience in accounts payable auditing, prior to that he worked at BT in the business billing department dealing with invoicing, billing, and collections. Prince2 qualified, Paul is responsible for the end to end process involved in an audit from pre-audit requirements, through analysis, and completion of the project.
Next steps To look more deeply beneath the surface of your accounts payable, contact our Business Development Team
+44(0)1253 361 600 | www.pcmg.co.uk for a free consultation on how we could
help your financial health recover.