Sunday, April 8, 2012

Who’s Watching Your Cash Register at Work?

I love cash registers. I remember like it was yesterday when my dad worked at a stationery store in Queens; I was 3 years old. Mom and I stopped by for a visit, and the store owner let me push the buttons on the mechanical cash register at the front counter. I was hooked. At the age of 4, I subsequently destroyed an electronic adding machine in Dad's office during a Saturday morning visit by pressing all the keys I could reach simultaneously. It whined, smoked and shorted out as part of its death throes. Today, I treat my electronics with a great deal more respect and thankfully, they last longer. Just to be safe, Joel asked me to not interact with our cash register when The Best Framing Company had a physical storefront.

Cash registers are on my mind tonight because I've read too many stories in the last year, in all sectors, of employees who have been caught with their hands in the till, so to speak. In other words, abusing their positions of trust as bookkeepers, office managers, accountants, controllers and CFOs by stealing money from their employers.

A common thread in all of these stories is that each organization did not have in place a system of financial / accounting controls to minimize the chances of one person using their organization's funds as illegal incremental income.

Another thread is the reliance on relationships alone to ensure financial controls. These stories always start out with the heartbreaking "I trusted him / her for years." Trust is critical in the workplace; however, it cannot be the only source of financial controls. It's a setup for failure for the entire organization.

So who's watching your cash register at work? And what's your system to keep the wrong hands out of the till?

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