A Comprehensive Guide on How to Do Bank Reconciliation
 Finance & Accounting

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Do Bank Reconciliation

Rick Johnson
Rick Johnson
February 14, 2024
Last updated on:

February 14, 2024

|

Read time: 9 mins

A bank reconciliation is a critical financial practice that ensures the integrity and accuracy of a company's financial records by comparing its internal accounting data with external statements from financial institutions. This process plays a pivotal role in identifying and rectifying discrepancies and preventing errors, fraud, or financial mismanagement. Yet, the process has its own complexities, making it difficult for businesses.

The complexities involved in bank reconciliations arise from the dynamic nature of financial transactions, diverse payment methods, and the potential for human error. Reconciling various types of transactions, including checks, electronic transfers, and credit card payments, adds layers of intricacy to the process.

This comprehensive guide on how to do bank reconciliation aims to demystify the process, providing step-by-step insights for businesses and individuals alike.

According to Expert Market Research, the account reconciliation software market reached approximately USD 3.16 billion in 2023 and is expected to expand at a 14.4% CAGR, aiming for around USD 10.64 billion by 2032.

What is Bank Reconciliation?

Bank reconciliation is a crucial financial process that ensures the consistency and accuracy between an individual or company's accounting records and the information provided by their bank statement. This process involves comparing and reconciling the balances of the bank statement with the internal accounting records. Discrepancies may arise due to factors such as outstanding checks, deposits in transit, bank fees, and errors in recording transactions.

To perform a bank reconciliation, one starts with the ending balance from the bank statement and adjusts for any items not yet recorded, and vice versa. The goal is to identify and resolve any discrepancies, ensuring that the financial records accurately reflect the actual cash position. Bank reconciliation is a fundamental practice for maintaining financial integrity, aiding in fraud detection, and providing a clear understanding of an entity's financial health.

What is the Purpose of Conducting Bank Reconciliation?

The purpose of conducting bank reconciliation is to ensure that the financial records of a company or an individual match the information provided by the bank. This process helps in identifying and resolving discrepancies between your accounting records and bank statements. It is typically performed monthly to identify and promptly address any discrepancies.

Here are some key reasons for conducting bank reconciliation:

1. Accuracy Verification: Bank reconciliation helps verify the accuracy of a company's financial records by comparing them with the bank statement. Discrepancies may arise due to errors in recording transactions, bank processing delays, or other issues.

2. Fraud Detection: Reconciliation can reveal any unauthorized or fraudulent transactions. By comparing the bank statement with the company's records, discrepancies that could indicate fraudulent activities, such as unauthorized withdrawals or altered checks, may be identified.

3. Timing Differences: Transactions may take time to be processed by the bank. This may lead to timing differences between the company's accounting records and the bank statements. Reconciliation helps account for these timing discrepancies and ensures that all transactions are properly recorded.

4. Unrecorded Transactions: Sometimes, transactions may be missed or not recorded in the company's books. Bank reconciliation helps identify any unrecorded transactions and ensure that the financial statements accurately show your company's financial position.

5. Bank Errors: Errors made by the bank, such as posting incorrect amounts or processing the same transaction twice, can be identified through reconciliation. Resolving these errors ensures the company's financial records are accurate.

6. Cash Management: Bank reconciliation is an essential tool for effective cash management. It provides insights into the actual cash position and allows business owners to make well-informed decisions about their cash flow and financial strategies.

7. Financial Reporting: Accurate financial reporting is vital for stakeholders, including investors, creditors, and management. Bank reconciliation ensures that financial statements present a true and reliable picture of the company's financial health.

How important is bookkeeping for a small business?

Bookkeeping is crucial for small businesses as it tracks financial transactions, maintains accurate records, and facilitates informed decision-making. It ensures compliance with tax regulations, aids in budgeting, and enhances overall financial management. Proper bookkeeping is fundamental for assessing business health, securing loans, and fostering long-term sustainability.

Read our blog, ‘Top 10 Important Bookkeeping Tips for Businesses,’ to manage your books effectively.

How to Do Bank Reconciliations: A Step-by-Step Process

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do bank reconciliation:

1. Gather Documents

Gathering documents is the initial step in the bank reconciliation process, requiring meticulous organization. Collect bank statements, canceled checks, deposit slips, and accounting records to ensure comprehensive documentation for reconciliation.

Begin by obtaining the latest bank statement and corresponding accounting records for the period under review. Organize these documents systematically, creating a clear trail for transaction verification. The accuracy of the bank reconciliation process relies on the completeness and precision of the gathered documents, forming the foundation for subsequent steps in achieving a balanced financial record.

2. Compare Beginning Balances

Once the necessary documents are gathered, the next step is to compare the beginning balances between the bank statement and your company's accounting statements. The starting point is crucial for identifying any discrepancies that may have arisen since the last reconciliation.

Ensure the opening balance on the bank statement matches the beginning balance in the accounting records. Discrepancies at this stage may indicate errors in previous reconciliations, unauthorized transactions, or overlooked adjustments. A thorough examination of the initial figures sets the stage for a precise and effective bank reconciliation process, laying the groundwork for accurate financial management.

Efficient Bank Reconciliation Practices
Image 1 - Efficient Bank Reconciliation Practices

3. Check Deposits

After verifying the beginning balances, the next step in the bank reconciliation process is to scrutinize check deposits. Compare the deposits recorded in the company's accounting records with those indicated on the bank statement. Confirm that all deposits made during the period are accurately reflected in both sets of records.

Identify any discrepancies, like missing deposits or variations in amounts. Unexplained differences may stem from delays in bank processing or overlooked entries. Timely reconciliation of check deposits ensures that the company's financial records align with actual bank transactions, fostering accuracy and reliability in financial reporting.

4. Record Outstanding Checks

To record outstanding checks during a bank reconciliation, identify any checks issued but not yet cleared by the bank. List these checks, along with their respective amounts, in your accounting records as pending transactions. This step ensures you account for funds that have been disbursed but haven't been reflected in the bank statement.

Next, update your records to reflect the outstanding checks by deducting their total amount from your bank balance. This adjustment ensures that your accounting records reflect the actual cash available, considering the outstanding checks that have yet to be cashed by recipients.

5. Reconcile Debit and Credit Entries

During the reconciliation process, compare your bank statement's debit and credit entries with your accounting records. Match each transaction from your bank statement to the corresponding entry in your records, ensuring accuracy and completeness. Identify any discrepancies or missing transactions that may require further investigation.

Once you've reconciled debit and credit entries, adjust your accounting records accordingly. Ensure that all transactions, including deposits, withdrawals, fees, and interest charges, are accurately reflected.

6. Adjust for Bank Errors

After reconciling debit and credit entries, it's crucial to identify and address any errors on the bank's end. Analyze the bank statement for discrepancies such as erroneous charges, incorrect amounts, or missed transactions. If any discrepancies are found, note them down and communicate with the bank to rectify the errors.

Once the bank errors are identified and confirmed, make the necessary adjustments in your accounting records. If the bank charged an incorrect fee or omitted a transaction, update your records to reflect the accurate financial picture.

7. Adjust for Accounting Errors

Following the reconciliation of bank errors, turn your attention to potential discrepancies within your own accounting records. Scrutinize your ledgers, journals, and financial statements to uncover any mistakes or oversights made during the recording process. This includes errors in entering transaction amounts, misclassifications, or overlooked entries.

Once accounting errors are identified, proceed to make the necessary adjustments in your records. Correct any misstated figures or misclassified entries to ensure the accuracy of your financial information.

8. Update Records

Updating records is a pivotal step in the bank reconciliation process to reflect the reconciled transactions and adjustments accurately. After addressing bank and accounting errors, meticulously update your financial records, including ledgers, journals, and accounting software.

Record the reconciled transactions, adjustments, and corrections made during the reconciliation process. Ensure that all changes are accurately reflected, including updated balances, corrected entries, and any newly discovered transactions.

9. Reconcile Ending Balances

Having updated your records, the next crucial step is to reconcile the ending balances between your bank statement and your accounting records. Compare the adjusted bank balance with your adjusted book balance to identify any remaining discrepancies.

Carefully review the reconciled transactions, making sure that each entry is accurately reflected in both the bank statement and your records. Confirm that the ending balances match, accounting for outstanding checks, deposits in transit, and any other adjustments made during the reconciliation process.

10. Document the Reconciliation

After reconciling ending balances, it is crucial to document the entire reconciliation process thoroughly. Create a comprehensive reconciliation statement that outlines the steps taken, adjustments made, and the final reconciled figures.

Include details such as the beginning balances, outstanding checks, reconciled debit and credit entries, adjustments for both bank and accounting errors, and the reconciled ending balances. Clearly specify any discrepancies discovered and the actions taken to resolve them.

How do you overcome a bank reconciliation error?

To overcome a bank reconciliation error, carefully review transactions and compare bank statements with internal records. Look for missing or duplicated entries, transposition errors, and timing differences. Investigate discrepancies, adjusting records as necessary to align with bank statements. Maintain clear documentation and establish internal controls to prevent future errors.

To know how we do it effectively, read our case study, ‘Invensis Helped A Logistics Firm Reduce 90% of Financial Reconciliation Errors.’

Ways To Streamline Bank Reconciliation Process
Image 2 - Ways To Streamline Bank Reconciliation Process

Example of a Bank Reconciliation:

Let's assume you are a small business owner, and you have a bank statement from XYZ Bank for the month of January. Here's a step-by-step example of a bank reconciliation:

1. Start with the Bank Statement:

  • Bank Statement Date: January 1 to January 31
  • Ending Balance according to the bank: $10,000

2. List Bank Transactions:

Record all transactions that appear on the bank statement. This includes deposits, withdrawals, bank fees, and interest earned.

Opening Balance: $9,000

  • + Deposits: $5,000
  • - Withdrawals: $2,000
  • - Bank Fees: $20
  • + Interest Earned: $10

Ending Balance (Bank Statement): $10,000

3. List Company Transactions:

Record all transactions from your company's records, excluding those that haven't cleared the bank yet.

   Opening Balance: $8,500

  • + Sales Receipts: $7,000
  • - Checks Issued: $3,000
  • - Service Charges: $15

Ending Balance (Company Records): $12,485

4. Adjust for Outstanding Transactions:

Identify any transactions that appear on your company's records but not on the bank statement (outstanding checks, deposits in transit).

  • Outstanding Checks: $1,000
  • Outstanding Deposits: $500

Adjust the company's ending balance for outstanding transactions.

Adjusted Ending Balance (Company Records): $11,985

5. Compare Adjusted Balances:

Compare the adjusted ending balance from your company's records with the ending balance on your bank statement.

  • Adjusted Ending Balance (Company Records): $11,985
  • Ending Balance (Bank Statement): $10,000

6. Reconcile Differences:

Identify and investigate any differences. In this example, the difference is $1,985.

7. Make Adjustments:

Make necessary adjustments in your company's records to reconcile the difference. This could involve correcting errors, adding missing transactions, or addressing outstanding items.

8. Final Reconciliation:

After making adjustments, the adjusted ending balance in your company's records should now match the ending balance on the bank statement.

  • Adjusted Ending Balance (Company Records): $10,000
  • Ending Balance (Bank Statement): $10,000

9. Record Adjustments:

Record any adjustments made during the reconciliation process in your company's accounting records.

By completing these steps, you ensure that your company's financial records align with the bank statement, helping to identify and correct discrepancies.

Common Errors in the Bank Reconciliation Process

Errors can occur during the bank reconciliation process. Here are some common errors to watch out for

1. Timing Differences

Timing differences in the bank reconciliation process arise from variations in the timing of recording financial transactions between a company's books and the bank statement. These discrepancies can result from outstanding checks, deposits in transit, or delayed processing by the bank. Outstanding checks represent issued payments not yet cashed, while deposits in transit are funds not yet reflected in the bank statement. Additionally, delays in processing by the bank can contribute to timing differences.

Strategies to Mitigate Timing Differences:

  • Accurate Record Keeping: Maintain up-to-date financial records to minimize timing differences between bank and book transactions.

  • Frequent Reconciliation: Conduct regular reconciliations to promptly identify and address timing discrepancies.

  • Communication with the Bank: Stay in touch with the bank to resolve any delays or discrepancies in transaction processing.

  • Utilize Technology: Leverage automated reconciliation tools to streamline the process and quickly identify and rectify timing differences.

2. Data Entry Errors

Data entry errors pose another common challenge in the bank reconciliation process. Mistakes made during the recording of financial transactions, such as incorrect amounts or misclassified entries, can lead to discrepancies between the company's records and the bank statement. Typos, transposition errors, or entering the wrong transaction details are typical examples. These inaccuracies may go unnoticed but can significantly impact the reconciliation process, resulting in a mismatch of financial data.

Strategies to Mitigate Data Entry Errors:

  • Double-Check Entries: Implement a thorough review process to double-check data entries and catch any errors before reconciling.

  • Data Validation Rules: Establish data validation rules to ensure accuracy during input, reducing the likelihood of entry errors.

  • Training Programs: Provide comprehensive training for personnel involved in data entry to enhance their skills and minimize mistakes.

  • Use Validation Tools: Employ validation tools and software to automatically flag and correct data entry errors, improving overall accuracy in the reconciliation process.

3. Transposition Errors

Transposition errors represent a specific subset of data entry mistakes in the bank reconciliation process. These errors occur when digits in a financial amount are inadvertently reversed during recording. For instance, if a transaction amount of $1,230 is incorrectly entered as $2,310, a transposition error has occurred. These mistakes can stem from manual input or typographical errors, potentially leading to discrepancies between the company's records and the bank statement.

Strategies to Mitigate Transposition Errors:

  • Reconciliation Templates: Create standardized reconciliation templates with predefined formats to minimize the risk of transposition errors during data entry.

  • Numerical Verification: Implement a numerical verification process to cross-check figures and identify transposition errors before finalizing the reconciliation.

  • Automated Data Entry: Utilize automated data entry systems to reduce manual input, decreasing the chances of transposing numbers and improving accuracy.

  • Regular Audits: Conduct periodic audits of financial records to proactively catch and rectify any transposition errors that may have occurred during the reconciliation process.

Key Internal Control Measures In Bank Reconciliation
Image 3 - Key Internal Control Measures In Bank Reconciliation

4. Bank Fees and Interest

Bank fees and interest discrepancies can introduce challenges in the bank reconciliation process. Banks may impose various fees for services or transactions, and interest accruals can impact account balances. Failure to account for these vital factors can lead to mismatches between the company's records and the bank statement. Overlooking a charged fee or interest income can result in inaccurate financial reporting. 

Strategies to Mitigate Bank Fees and Interest:

  • Record All Fees and Interest: Ensure all bank fees and interest transactions are accurately recorded in the books to avoid discrepancies during reconciliation.

  • Regular Fee Audits: Conduct regular audits of bank statements to identify and reconcile any differences in recorded fees and interest.

  • Communication with Bank: Communicate with the bank to understand the nature of fees and interest charges, resolving any discrepancies promptly.

  • Utilize Technology: Employ accounting software that automatically tracks and categorizes bank fees and interest, reducing the likelihood of manual errors during reconciliation.

5. Outstanding Checks

Outstanding checks represent a notable challenge in the bank reconciliation process. These are checks issued by the company but have not yet been presented to the bank for payment. As a result, the bank statement may not reflect the deduction of these outstanding checks, leading to a discrepancy between the company's records and the bank statement. Failing to consider outstanding checks can create an inaccurate representation of available funds.

Strategies to Mitigate Outstanding Checks:

  • Check Registry Maintenance: Keep an updated check registry to track all issued checks and their respective amounts, minimizing the risk of outstanding check discrepancies.

  • Timely Recording: Record issued checks promptly in the accounting system to reflect the most accurate and current information during reconciliation.

  • Regular Reconciliation: Conduct frequent bank reconciliations to promptly identify and address any outstanding checks, ensuring timely resolution.

  • Communication with Payees: Communicate with payees regularly to verify the status of outstanding checks, facilitating the accurate reconciliation of accounts.

6. Deposits in Transit

Deposits in transit present a significant factor in the bank reconciliation process. These are deposits made by your company that have not yet been recorded or processed by the bank, leading to discrepancies between the company's books and the bank statement. Failure to consider deposits in transit can result in an understated bank balance, affecting financial accuracy.

Strategies to Mitigate Deposits in Transit:

  • Clear Communication: Ensure timely exchange of information between bank and company to minimize discrepancies caused by timing differences.

  • Accurate Recording: Record transactions promptly to align with the correct accounting period, reducing timing disparities.

  • Regular Monitoring: Conduct frequent reconciliations to promptly identify and rectify any timing variances between bank and company records.

Conclusion

As businesses continue to grow and transactions become more complex, the need for accurate and timely bank reconciliations will only intensify. However, many businesses face challenges in this area, such as the sheer volume of transactions, discrepancies in recording, and the intricacies of financial systems. Failing to perform regular reconciliations can lead to financial mismanagement, incorrect reporting, and increased risk of fraud.

Given these challenges, businesses are increasingly relying on financial experts and advanced technologies to conduct bank reconciliations. Expert service providers possess the expertise to navigate complexities, identify discrepancies, and ensure compliance with accounting standards.

Invensis, a premier finance and accounting services company with over two decades of expertise, excels in comprehensive financial solutions. Our bank reconciliation services ensure precision in aligning your business’ accounting records with bank statements. Beyond reconciliation, we provide a spectrum of services including, accounts payable/receivable, payroll processing, financial reporting, and more. Reach out to us now for streamlined financial excellence and expert bank reconciliation.

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