Tax & Accounting Blog

Five risks you can avoid through proper training

Accounting Firms, Accounting, Audit & Payroll, Blog, Business Practices, Tax, Technology, Workflow & Processes November 20, 2015

Take a look at the risks your firm faces and how you can avoid and manage them through training.

Bookkeeping errors, data breaches and occupational health and safety mishaps are just some of the common mistakes that pop up in accounting firms due to a lack of training.

Fortunately, firms can largely avoid these mistakes through implementing effective training programmes – both internally and externally – as well as encouraging learning and development.

Here are a few risks your firm could face if you don’t provide relevant training programmes.

Data-breach risks

While accounting firms are required to keep all records confidential, data breaches can happen in a number of ways. A lost or stolen device such as a laptop or USB, a hacking attack, an improper data disposal or even a wayward email message could see a firm facing data-breach risks.

Thankfully, accounting firms can safeguard against these risks by enrolling their staff in data management courses. Firms should also make staff aware of their requirements with recordkeeping and archiving, plus communicate the company’s formal procedures for backup and data recovery.

Financial reporting risks

Accounting firms can face the risk of financial reporting mistakes if their employees are not up to date on the latest developments in regulations, plus industry standards and practices. Continuing professional development and training is essential for accountants to reduce the chance of making bookkeeping mistakes or other financial errors.

In addition to requiring staff to undertake professional development, firm owners can also implement regular performance reviews to monitor progress and set goals for staff. Meeting on an ongoing basis will ensure employees are reaching their key knowledge requirements.

Auditing risks

Accounting firms must ensure their employees are aware of the latest auditing and assurance standards if carrying out this type of service for clients.

Staff should stay up to date with the federal government’s Australian auditing standards, which list the responsibilities of an auditor when undertaking an audit of a financial report, financial statement or other type of document. Firms can also protect themselves against audit risk by buying insurance for the company.

Reputation and client risks

Accounting firms can face a loss of reputation if their employees provide clients with incorrect investment advice, financial strategies or business plans.

To ensure your firm does not face reputational damage that could lead to revenue loss or client lawsuits, enrol your employees in the latest courses on personal and corporate tax and financial reporting.

Meanwhile, privacy breaches – actual or perceived – can lead to client distrust in your company. As the leader of your firm, set the expectation with staff that they should keep all lines of communication open with clients to prevent any form of miscommunication or disagreements.

Encourage employees to alert their clients immediately if a deadline changes or they uncover a problem. Checking in regularly helps firms keep client retention high and uncovers any issues before a dispute arises.

Occupational health and safety risks

Accounting firms are just as susceptible to occupational health and safety risks as any other organisation.

While accounting staff may not be exposed to the risks of a construction site or plant, they can still experience serious injuries. This can be caused by lifting or pushing heavy objects, slipping or falling, repetitive strain and exposure to mental stress.

To prevent these risks, firms should educate staff on occupational health and safety policies and procedures on a regular basis. Firms should also assign staff members to key roles in the event of an emergency. Workplace hazards and risks can also be identified with feedback from employees, so always encourage staff members to speak up on potential safety issues and file an incident report.

Ensuring your staff members are well trained and up to date in these vital areas may alleviate risk for your firm and even protect it from future harm.

To learn more about investing in staff training and development, visit our Checkpoint Learning site.