Internal controls are protocols and systems which safeguard a firm from losses due to issues such as theft or accident. The two chief objectives of internal controls include: safeguarding a company’s assets and enhancing accuracy and reliability of accounting records. A company’s assets must be protected from employee theft, robbery and unauthorized use. Accuracy and reliability of a company’s accounting records is accomplished by reducing the risk of errors and fraudulent activities in the accounting process.
For example, an accounting system of internal controls might include locking the payroll checks and securing them with another person. This ensures that both people are responsible for the decision and when only, “…one individual is responsible for related activities it increases the potential for errors and irregularities” (Kimmel, Kieso, & Weygandt, 2011).
There are many forms of internal control and a quality system will have several layers of protection such as establishment of responsibilities; segregation of duties; and documentation procedures. In this way, the company is protected by having multiple safeguards to deter theft or to stop loss by other means such as accident (Kimmel, Kieso, & Weygandt, 2011). I think it should be noted that not all protocols are created for theft. For example, reconciliation of bank statements protects against other problems such as accidental loss. I worked a company where a person who was working in the accounting department forgot to process credit card transactions and deposit the card receipts. The reconciliation process found this problem before it could escalate.
Kimmel, P. D., Kieso, D. E., & Weygandt, J. J. (2011). Financial accounting: Tools for business decision making. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.