Understanding Bank Reconciliation Accounting with Examples

Written by Kalei White
August 14, 2023

Bank reconciliation compares a company’s accounting records with bank statements to ensure financial accuracy. Learn how technology can streamline it.

As a member of a finance or treasury team, the concept of bank reconciliation is a fundamental cornerstone of your role.

It’s more than just comparing two sets of figures – it’s about building trust in your financial data, ensuring every cent is accounted for. Because, if your CFO or other company executives are going to be basing their decisions on your financial data, you want to make sure it’s correct! 

Not only will that make sure those decisions offer the greatest chance for success, but having up-to-date financial statements and information will mean avoiding financial pitfalls as well.

In this article, we’re going to be shedding light on various facets of bank reconciliation, including an understanding of bank statements, journal entries, and the art of managing discrepancies, to make sure there’s nothing you’re missing. 

You might already be comfortable with these concepts, or it might be totally new to you. Either way, you’re sure to pick up something new. Think of it as your ultimate guide to mastering bank reconciliation.

Together, we will untangle the complex threads of bank reconciliation and weave them into a process that’s not just necessary but also interesting and highly beneficial. Ready, set, reconcile!

The Foundation of Bank Reconciliation

When we talk about bank reconciliation, we’re referring to the process of comparing your bank statement with your company’s accounting records. It’s an important step in bookkeeping that ensures every transaction is accounted for and that your company’s records align with your balance sheet.

Now, let’s talk about debit and credit in the bank balance. When we say “debit,” it’s an addition to your bank balance. On the other hand, “credit” means a deduction on the balance sheet. These are important terms that you’ll often come across during your reconciliation process.

The key elements of bank reconciliation include your accounting records (where you keep track of your company’s financial transactions), outstanding transactions (invoices or bills due but not yet received or paid), and bank charges. Each element plays a vital role in ensuring your company’s financial health.

Speaking of financial health, did you know there’s a difference between cash management and accounting? It’s a common misconception that they are interchangeable, but they do have unique roles to play. So how do they differ? Well, you can find out more in this deep dive into cash management and accounting.

Navigating the Bank Reconciliation Process

So, what’s a bank reconciliation statement? In essence, it’s a document which compares your company’s balance sheet with its banking statement, highlighting and explaining any discrepancies that appear. And remember those journal entries we mentioned earlier? They’re essential for tracking your company’s cash transactions – every payment and every deposit made!

Your cash balance, general ledger, and bank records play a pivotal role in maintaining accurate accounting records. The cash balance tells you how much money is in your company’s bank account at a specific point in time. The general ledger is the main accounting record of your company and your bank records are proof of your transactions with the bank. 

All these elements interact during the reconciliation process to ensure your ending balance is accurate and free of errors. Comparing all of these different sources of information ensures that nothing is missed. If something appears on your bank statement but not on the general ledger, it gives you the opportunity to fix the problem and identify why it’s missing.

Whether we’re talking finance or a cross country road trip, navigation is easier when you have a map. In the world of bank reconciliation, our map is a combination of these elements working together (plus with Trovata AI, it can be a GPS too – but more on that later).

Dealing with Potential Challenges in Bank Reconciliation

It would be pretty rare for a bank reconciliation to be completed without some bumps in the road (yes, we’re sticking hard to the transport metaphor!). Challenges like insufficient funds, service charges, and bank errors can complicate the bank reconciliation process. Knowing how to navigate these challenges is the key to a high quality bank reconciliation, given that finding errors is essentially the whole point!

One example could be insufficient funds in account which leads to bounced checks, which then incurs bank fees and disrupts your cash flow. Because that bank fee isn’t something you’d planned for or expected, it won’t have been accounted for in the general ledger. 

Service charges are fees that your bank may deduct from your account for specific services. If these are not recorded in your books, they can cause discrepancies during reconciliation.

And bank errors? They can occur too! A tiny typo or decimal point in the wrong place can lead to incorrect balances. In short, there are dozens of different transactions or cash flow movements which can create errors, highlighting just how important bank reconciliation is.

Streamlining Bank Reconciliation with Technology

With advancements in technology, we now have access to tools that can significantly streamline the reconciliation process. Your mind might jump straight to Excel, but things have moved on a lot. 

Excel is powerful, but even today it is a hugely manual process which relies on everyone using the right version of the spreadsheet, a large amount of manual input of data and a hefty serving of potential human error.

That’s why Trovata is such a powerful tool for cash management, allowing you to directly link your company bank accounts through the use of APIs. It means that you see a consolidated view of all your bank accounts in one place, in real time, with no potential for transcription errors.

For a process like bank reconciliation where accuracy is the most important thing, cash management software is a vital tool for a modern treasury department.

But it’s not just about convenience; it’s about improving your company’s cash flow too. Keeping a close eye on bank transactions and withdrawals can help you better understand and predict your cash flow trends. But remember, discrepancies, non-sufficient funds (NSF) checks, and bank service fees can affect your cash account balance.

Want to optimize your cash flow management? Of course, you do! In this helpful guide, we discuss the essential ways to optimize your cash flow management.

With technology at your fingertips and the right know-how, streamlining your bank reconciliation process becomes a piece of cake! And remember, Trovata is here to simplify the process even further, making bank reconciliation a breeze.

Examples of Bank Reconciliation

So far we’ve talked about bank reconciliation in general terms. Now, let’s get into the realm of practical application by examining a few examples of how bank reconciliation works in a real-world scenario. This will help in visualizing the process and understanding how it functions on a granular level.

Example 1: Outstanding Checks

Imagine that your company’s accounting records show a cash balance of $10,000 at the end of the month. Meanwhile, the bank statement reflects a balance of $11,000. At first glance, it may seem like there’s an error. However, upon closer inspection, you notice that there’s a check for $1,000 that your company issued but the recipient has not yet cashed it. This is known as an outstanding check. In this case, the discrepancy is resolved once the check clears, and both balances will show $10,000.

Example 2: Bank Service Charges

Now consider another scenario where the bank statement shows an ending balance of $5,000, but your company’s cash account records show $5,100. The difference of $100 could be due to bank service charges that haven’t been recorded in the company’s books. After accounting for the bank charges in the company’s records, both balances will match at $5,000.

Example 3: Direct Deposit Transactions

In this example, an employee has a direct deposit of $500 set up for their salary. The accounting records show a balance of $4,500, while the bank statement displays $5,000. This discrepancy arises because the direct deposit transaction has been processed by the bank but has not yet been recorded in the company’s accounting records. Once updated, the accounting records will align with the bank statement.

Example 4: Bank Errors

Let’s say your company’s accounting records show a cash balance of $2,000, while the bank statement shows $1,800. Upon investigation, you find that the bank mistakenly recorded a cash withdrawal of $200 that your company didn’t make. This is a bank error. After notifying the bank about the error and getting it rectified, both balances will be consistent at $2,000.

In each of these examples, the bank reconciliation process resolves discrepancies between the company’s accounting records and the bank statement, ensuring accurate financial management. With software solutions like Trovata, these discrepancies can be spotted and resolved quickly, saving time and enhancing the accuracy of your financial records.

By regularly performing bank reconciliation, you can keep your books clean, maintain transparency, and have tighter control over your company’s finances, ensuring effective cash management and financial health. 

Leveraging Bank Reconciliation for Sound Financial Management

Maintaining the integrity of your company’s financial records is no small task, but having a robust bank reconciliation process in place is the best way to achieve it. By comparing your internal financial records with your bank statements, it ensures that every transaction is accounted for, down to the last penny!

But it’s not just about keeping your books clean; it’s also about transparency and control. Mastering the bank reconciliation process allows you to bolster your internal control mechanisms and shine a light on every aspect of your financial management. This means that you can identify potential problems before they become major, all while ensuring that every dollar is where it’s supposed to be.

And there you have it! The world of bank reconciliation, simplified.

At Trovata, we’re committed to making cash management easy. Our platform streamlines the process, saving you time and improving accuracy through the use of real time banking information across all your accounts. 

We provide an overview of your bank balances and transactions, enabling automatic matching, transaction categorization, and even audit trails. Not only does this allow for seamless bank reconciliation, but with the use of tools like Trovata AI, you can generate any report you can dream of, conduct complex scenario planning and a whole heap more. 

It’s corporate cash management for the next generation.

Here’s to robust financial management and effortless bank reconciliation!

Ready to take the plunge? Book a demo today.

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