Overview of Controlling Methods

Posted on:Oct 5,2016

Summary

We can define the financial management as an element of the corporations’ management system. It is a subsystem that is responsible to do the governing, planning, organizing and controlling of financial processes and coordinates the financial function on the operational and strategic level according to the company goals. Within this framework, it takes a part in determining of the strategy beside the top management and supporting it simultaneously. It is responsible for the realization of the financial strategy and the realization of the supporting operational plans, for developing the organization, information system and other conditions. The importance of financial management has increased in the recent decade that was proven by many researchers. To make the financial management able to fulfil its new and common tasks, and to support the board, and the CEO with the required financial information, an information system is needed. With the help of this information, system that should be based on financial accounting and controlling system information can realize an effective financial decision-making on the strategic and annual time dimension. Banking and financial sector controlling is a dynamically growing area of the controlling methods used in organizations. The difference between bank controlling and the standard controlling methodology is defined by the specific tasks and products, banking transactions (e.g., cash-flow, credit and capital investments) as a part of banks’ value creation process. Management tasks of banks are provided by integrating two well-defined sub-fields (controlling functions of the bank’s internal operation and service). This integration can only be achieved by linking planning, plan-fact analysis and information service functions together. In addition, the concepts and principles of financial control and which constitute the set of actions that must be taken into consideration in order to achieve an efficient and effective financial control in various organizations system. Finally, in this study we are going to examine the main factors that have to determine the role of financial control mechanisms. To get a proper picture about financial control- what its role, tasks and tools are-we accomplish an international overview of scientific literature.

Key words: Financial accounting, Financial management; Financial goals, Banking transactions, Management tasks

Introduction

The controlling function is a management subsystem that performs coordination connecting the processes of planning, reviewing and information support to satisfy the information needs and realize company goals both on the annual and strategic levels (Horváth-Dobák, 1990). The coordination activity is interpreted as system development and system harmonization, synchronization. The basic controlling system consists of management accounting, planning and reporting systems and the system like synchronization of them. Financial control is a functional control area that puts the support of financial management decisions into foreground besides fulfilling the common controlling principles.

Financial control means (Sinkovics, 2010) the use of basic controlling tasks on the field of corporate finances. (planning the financial activities, financial standards, requirements, measuring fact data, indexes, performing plan-fact analysis, financial problems, bad tendencies, activities, management policies, and development of correction proposals). Therefore to define financial control the tasks of financial management, and financial aims, the controlling principles and their relation to the realization of financial goals have to be cleared. Basic task of financial controlling is to prepare financial plans in accordance with strategic goals, to ensure the realization and actual performance of these plans, as well as the evaluation and control of an enterprise’s financial performance. The accomplishment of the above mentioned tasks can be ensured by operating a coordinated system of financial planning, operative directing, controlling and information providing procedures (Zéman et al., 2014, pp. 30-31; Andersen, 1986).

Material and Method

In the process of financial planning on the basis of strategic schemes plans covering several years of time scale are made. In these plans the actions to follow are outlined. On the basis of plans of several years the operative annual plans are drawn up. They are divided further on by operative financial directing in accordance with the shortest reporting interval in the system of financial reporting. The most important task of operative financial directing is to continuously control the liquidity of ventures, to compare plans or standards with achievements, to analyse deviations and to take necessary corrective actions. The tasks of central financial directing is appropriately supported by financial, accounting data aggregated at the level of a company, whereas the financial directing at the level of an organizational unit requires a separated survey of financial and accounting data at the organizational unit level. Moreover, the components of a financial controlling system are defined by its tasks. The most important components which including: financial accounting system, database; management accounting system; financial planning; coordinating operative directing; controlling, feedback; and, organization of controlling (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 31).

Financial control, efficiency is determined by its contribution to preventing and eliminating dysfunctions, improving organisation and the management of the decision-making process and enhancing the overall efficiency of the economic activity. Nowadays, it is deemed that the efficiency of control will be higher as long as more emphasis is laid on the prevention of misconduct and on recommending measures to regulate the controlled field. Furthermore, the efficiency of the financial control is determined by the permanent relationship between two areas of action, namely: the preventive-operative area and the area of immediate capitalisation on the conclusions of the control (Bostan, 2010, p. 78).

Andersen (1986) and Co. published a study called “Decade of change – Banking in Europe -the next ten years”, in which 600 reputable leaders of banks, financial institutions and businessmen shared their opinions about the development of the European Banking System. Summarizing the answers for one of the questions such as – What do you consider the most important factors of a bank’s successful operation? – Zéman (et al., 2013) make’s the following ranking: qualification of the bank management (controlling role), bank marketing, quality of the management information (controlling role), installation of modern technologies, innovation of banking products and services, competitive cost structure (controlling role), risk management (controlling role), prominence of the strategic planning (controlling role) and equity endowment (Zéman et al, 2013, p. 14).

Among the above mentioned points it is essential to have extensive information system with a logical structure, which is provided by a well-established controlling system. The “oversupply” of the banking services – with the expansion of the market economy – has led to a competitive pressure among the domestic banks. Certainly, the widening of the banking services meant higher risk factor for the financial institutions. The direct consequence of this strong change of the market conditions was the need for information. It is difficult to answer questions like the following without proper information (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 14):

  • which bank product has the highest cost recovery level?
  • whether all branches are profitable?
  • which banking division is the most profitable?

Zéman et al. (2013, p. 14) stated that as a result of these, the decision-makers need an information base to be created including relevant details and numerous decision variations; to have better adaptation to the market. Finally, the author’s mentioned that if we look at it from a different perspective we can state that – also as a result of the strong competitive situation – it is time to transform the planning system which can follow the quick changes of the market conditions thus it provides the success to reach the operative and strategic targets of the bank.

Results and Discussion: Financial management, definition, tasks, tools, types, objectives and goals

The evaluation of financial management definitions it has been found that authors try to make definitions from the aspect of task and functions. The orientation and tasks of financial management are basically influenced by the stakeholders’ expectations, and financial management priorities (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 32). The theory of financial management can be looked at as an extension of corporate theory. Considering that traditional emphasis of microeconomics lays on the connection of the level of yield and output –beside a fix level of capital- financial management concerned with the connection of the profitability the volume of capital employed. (Saguna, 2001).

Brealy (2005) put emphasis on financial managers’ intermediary role between the company and the financial markets. The term of financial management is used for that person, who is responsible for the investment and financial decisions. The highlights for these decisions are usually more than one person is responsible, so it is not an easy question to define the role of the financial manager. This leads to the conclusion that the personalized appearance of financial managements’ functions depends on the size of the company, and the necessity of tight cooperation with other top managers (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 32).

Busse (2003) makes a difference between the tasks of financial management (Table 1). He separates the leading task of financial processes, from the tasks that are in connection with the financial structure in accordance with the planning and decision-making levels (dispositive, operational, strategic).

Table 1: The tasks of financial management

controllingmethods_table1

Source: Busse (2003, p. 822); Adapted from: Zéman et al. (2014, p. 33).

The strategic task definition of financial management includes the stable corporate value growth beside the operational goal of ensuring liquidity (Figure 1).

controllingmethods_figure1

Figure 1: Main goals of financial management [Source: Assembled by Zéman et al. (2014, p. 33) on the basis of Prätsch et al. (2007)].

Zéman et al. (2014, p. 32) define the financial management as an element of the corporations’ management system. It is a subsystem that is responsible to do the governing, planning, organizing and controlling of financial processes and coordinates the financial function on the operational and strategic level according to the company goals. Within this framework, it takes a part in determining of the strategy beside the top management and supporting it simultaneously. It is responsible for the realization of the financial strategy and the realization of the supporting operational plans, for developing the organization, information system and other conditions.

What is a good financial management like?

To answer this question is not an easy task (Zéman et al. 2014, pp. 32-33). In the entrepreneurial sector, the primary task of a good financial management is to provide useful information in order to reach an established decision. In the state sector, in the sector of public resources the situation differs to a certain extent. Financial Management there should firstly bear in mind to comply with the regulations of law. On the other hand, there is no doubt about the fact that many financial management decisions in the state sector are affected by political realities and not by consideration of their possible future financial consequences. The basic tasks of business financial management involve the obligation to finance, control, analyse and inform.

The financial management is characterized by the following tasks in both sectors:

  • Analysis and evaluation of managerial decisions’ financial effects before and after implementation.
  • Providing financial assets needed to accomplish the planned performance and its functioning.
  • Protecting resources with the help of appropriate financial controlling.
  • Creating the financial frames of future performances and functioning.
  • Establishing an event-recording system which provides information for the control of planned performances and their functioning.
  • Evaluating and reporting on the implemented financial performance.
  • Liquidity management, sustainability of solvency and profitability (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 34).

It is interesting to follow through the procedure of changes occurred in the role and place of enterprises’ financial management from a historical point of view. Until the middle of the 19th century, the management of a company was featured by one main character, by the owner- manager. After the industrial revolution a special emphasis was put on the distribution of managerial roles in the organizational development of companies, as a result the system of management decision of allocation was established (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 34).

In the below section Zéman et al. (2014, pp. 34-35) published the followings:

Place and Role of Financial Management:

  • Good financial management
  • Tasks of financial management
    • Entrepreneurial sector
    • State sector
  • Historical overview
    • Until the middle of the nineteenth century
    • The period after the industrial revolution
    • The first half of the twentieth century
    • The second half of the twentieth century

Tasks of Financial Management related to analysis:

  • Assessment of efficiency and profitability of entrepreneurial activity
    • Economic efficiency
    • Complex efficiency
    • The most frequently applied yield categories
      • Net sales revenues
      • Gross production cost
      • Production cost regardless materials
      • Net production cost
      • Added value
      • Entrepreneurial income
  • Examination of enterprises’ profitability
    • The most frequently used performance indicators: ROE, ROA, ROI
      • ROA: Return on assets
      • ROE return on equity
      • ROI: return on investment
    • Market ratios
  • Methods of analysing results
    • The method of subsequent, non-detailed result analysis
    • Factors influencing the amount covering the costs
      • Change of prices
      • Change of volume
      • Change of composition
      • Change of direct overhead expenses
      • Examinations related to break-even point

Concept of Financial Controlling:

  • Financial controlling is the coordinated system of financial planning, operative directing, controlling and information providing procedures which are in accordance with the strategic goals and structure of an enterprise.

Not only have the internal factors of an enterprise but also the economic environment a relevant influence on establishing a financial controlling system. Finally, regarding finances to create the possibility of a quick response to the changes occurred in the economic environment is of great significance (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 35; Roman, 2006).

Definition of controlling

Zéman et al. (2014, p. 35) mentioned that the interpretation of controlling –goal, content, tool system, possibility of application – is different according to theoretic and praxis professionals. The literature offers two aspects for the interpretation. The first is the system approach (e.g., Noszkay, 1994) that captivates the role of data processor, interpreter, plan-fact analyzer, decision preparatory, the second is the management theory approach (e.g., Bodnár 1997), that explains the control functions a management function.

According to Körmendi-Tóth (1996) and Francsovics (2005, p. 20. and Francsovics – Kadocsa, 2001, p. 112-113), controlling consists of the following functions:

  1. Determining the corporate goals, and goal setting process (strategic and operational level), economic planning,
  2. Reviewing of results, comparison of plan- fact values (detailed cost, earnings and performance settlement system (management oriented accounting), development of index number systems, examination of the deviations from pl,
  3. Data collecting, processing for decision preparation and selecting intervention areas,
  4. Information service for the correspondent management levels, and the improvement of management information system (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 35).

Éva and Kovácsné Soós (Éva –Kovácsné Soós, 2003, p. 15) break up the controlling task into two groups, the system developer functions, so the ones that develop, create, and improves the structures needed by the controlling and the system operator functions, that operate the structures. Basic data are coming from the records of the financial and managerial accounting. In determination of the plan and fact positions data that are coming from the different special functional areas of operation in daily, weekly frequency play determining role. Among the information sources the authors can make differences according to inner (e.g., accounting, finance, different functional areas) and outer (e.g., market information) sources (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 36). “The content of information system depends on the size, level of improvement, branch of activity and the position of the life cycle” (Hanyecz, 2009). The task of controlling as an information system is the procession of and framing these data into information (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 36). Francsovics (2005) determines the information demand as a social- economics environment, the organizational and legal form of the company, its size, proper scope, the type of information, frequency (periodical or occasional) and the determination of cost/benefit (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 36).

From the aspect of controlling tools, Becker-Baltzer (2009) opposites more factors according to the tools are from toolbar of controlling, business economy, management or other functional areas. So they identify as a special controlling tools (the reporting system, the cost calculations and environment analysis) comprehending two areas (e.g., Balanced scorecard, budget calculation, conjoint analysis, lifecycle calculation, rent ability calculations) comprehending of more than two areas (e.g., ABC analysis, benchmarking, break-even point analysis, decision tree, experiential curve, GAP analysis, index number/ index number systems, investment calculations, portfolio analysis, forecasting methods, risk analysis, sensitivity analysis etc.). The authors introduce the controlling tool usage of the different functional fields. Among the functional fields the production and the financial field lean on the controlling tools to the highest degree. Financial control consists of the former mentioned common controlling elements, but serving the financial management has an elemental priority (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 36).

Financial controlling supports the financial management decision process with a function comprehensive governing toolbar through goal-oriented information collecting and processing. Besides, it fulfils an important coordination role. The system developer function develops the financial controlling function itself; in holds, the system linked functions and the coordination of financial management system and other subsystems of the company. Financial controlling provides such an efficient tool system to the financial management that performs a systematic short and long term planning and its necessary control according to the desired financial company goals. As an information source, it uses the past oriented data of financial accounting, and the future oriented information like its self-made financial plans (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 36). Prätsch et al. (2007) posts the reporting and documentary, system developer (besides the system usage) and corporate economic advising tasks to financial controlling.

In the concept of Witt – Witt (1994, p. 20), these standpoints are also to be found, but highlight the role of liquidity, the forecast of balance shield, and income statement, the budget calculations, and the development of financial index numbers. According to the size of the company, they mark the necessity of integration to a unified controlling concept as the most important building stone. Additionally, in the phases of the financial department’s leading and decision-making processes (financial planning, realization, control) the following tasks has to be done as shown in Figure 2 (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 37).

Figure 2: Task fields and chosen methods of financial control

controllingmethods_figure2

Source: Gillenkirch, 2008; Adapted from: Zéman et al., 2014, p. 37.

Means by which financial control impacts the increase of economic efficiency

Through specific actions, financial control professionals play an important role in increasing the efficiency of the controlled economic entities. This confirms the basic principles that underlie and justify the carrying out of financial control when the focus is on organising and managing the whole activity in order to guarantee its profitability (Bostan, 2010, p. 78).

Financial control contributes to increasing the efficiency of one’s activity, and of controlled entities, by implementing a range of established procedures and techniques. When properly targeted, these methods can lead to high performance. In carrying out financial control [according to Cocoara, “Conceptul de eficienţa…” (The Concept of Efficiency …), in the journal Revista Controlul economic financiar (Economic and Financial Control, Cocoara, 1999, pp. 19-20; Roman et al, 2007, p 24) the following extremely simple yet equally effective recommendations must apply (Bostan, 2010, p. 79):

  1. Financial control must not demand inadequate information and situations, which would require an allocation of time and create psychological strain, to the detriment of regular activity;
  2. Financial control must consider the fact that economic phenomena and processes tend to be repeated to a certain degree, therefore at a given stage the same dysfunctions will be observed in most entities, which enables control agencies to identify them more rapidly and therefore to improve the efficiency of their own activity;
  3. Financial control should be based on combined control methods customised to the specifics and particular issues of the controlled activity, which will allow the successive selection, as the examination process unfolds, of all the categories of dysfunctions (Bostan, 2010, p. 79).

In this context, the author quoted above (Cocoara, 1999) makes the following recommendations, which are as follows:

  • When any deficiencies are discovered, they will be recorded either directly in the objective that is analysed in the control brief or in the personal record;
  • In order to clarify those issues which require discussions, the parties concerned will be invited, after a brief period, to save time, as this creates an opportunity to tackle several issues during the same appointment;
  • To ensure that changes can be made during the period of control, in the first days the analysis will focus on accounts such as: “accounts payable”, “accounts receivable”, “suppliers of current assets”, “advance payments to suppliers”, “cash advances”, “suspense accounts”, “expense accounts”.
  • If any deficiencies are observed, which require written explanations and the drafting of observation records, these documents will be prepared immediately or on the following day at the latest, to enable the correction of the situation based on prompt actions taken during the control itself;
  • The stage of analysis, discussion and conclusion involving the management of the entity will be scheduled for the last days of the control, except in serious cases of breach of law, such as violations that must be tackled without delay;
  • In setting the deadlines for preparing, submitting and motivating the models and reports, one should request the opinion of those who are tasked with preparing the documents and accept their submission within the time frame allocated to that specific objective. The tracking of the submission will be based on the operational notes made in the personal record book, which will specify the model, the person and the day the meeting is held;
  • Financial control bodies must ensure that they avoid the creation of any conflict situations (Bostan, 2010, pp. 79-80).

Finally, it must be noted that the quantitative efficiency and the qualitative efficiency of the financial control activity are also dependent on the period of time when the control activity was conducted (Bostan, 2010, p. 85).

Financial control, in support of the management of the company

The realities of the modern society demonstrate ever more that the development of the market economy and its increasing complexity require the large-scale use of economic data as a foundation for decision-making to guarantee maximum speed of response and efficiency. Reliance of intuition alone tends to become a thing of the past (Bostan, 2010, p. 80).

Leadership in general and economic leadership in particular has become a science based on information of all types, which serve as the foundation for the numerous decisions regarding the use of material, financial and human resources. The complete exploitation of available information in the decision-making process can be achieved only within an informational economic system, designed as an overall set of means and methods of information collection, storage and use (Bostan, 2010, p. 80). In this management context, financial control holds an important role, due to its capacity to retrieve information from source and to release it in a relatively short time, while simultaneously it contributes in applying decisions at all organisational levels and correcting the issues arising from erroneous adoption or implementation of decisions (Bostan, 2010, p. 80).

The methodological system of financial control

The Methods of implementation of financial control as the control points of the implementation of tasks in different ways and often determine the kind of regulatory systems.

a) The elements of the control system

No matter the level at which the set objectives are carried out, the control is composed of three different moments that are connected to each other (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 29). These moments are (Figure 3):

  • the comparison between the records and the real situation;
  • the analysis and the evaluation of the results and the deviations;
  • usage the findings.

The inputs in the control system consist in the data and information necessary for the two terms of comparison (the ideal situation and the real situation).

The ideal situation is established based on the regulations and restrictions of the legislative system, on the decisions made at different levels of management, on programs of activity, on income budgets, and on the recorded stocks reflected in the accounting (Oprean, 2002). Depending on the way the control approaches the ideal situation, the conformity controls are different from the pilot control and the adaptive controls.

The real situation is established based on the observations made at the firm, on the inventories of control, on the documents’ check, on laboratory analyses, on examinations and on the explanations given by the controlled ones. The essential moment of the control process is the comparison. Any operation or economic financial activity is being investigated in connection with a criterion, with a comparison basis. The comparison criteria determine the nature of the control (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 30):

  • the comparison in connection to a pre-established criterion (norm, goals, forecasts, tasks, standards, etc.);
  • special comparisons (between alternative efficiency levels of organization measures or organization solutions with the purpose of choosing the best);
  • space comparisons (for instance between certain public services);
  • time comparisons (between the programmed or actual activity in the controlled period and the previous period).

The control comparison has typical aspects, depending on the nature of the economic financial activities and obligations that are being controlled, depending on the calculation methodology and on the record system. The compared operations or activities must be homogeneous, calculated and expressed by using a uniform methodology. Based on the results of the comparison, the next steps consist in analyzing and evaluating the results or the deviations, defining the influence factors and the causes, and establishing the consequences and the responsibilities. Turning to good account the findings represents the final stage of the control process. Depending on the conclusions reached in the previous control stages, within this stage are completed and implemented measures that should lead to influencing the controlled activities. The outputs of the control system consist in operative measures that were adopted during the control in order to correct the situation, to improve the activity, and to punish the guilty persons; compulsory orders given to the controlled ones; reports to the management organs that ordered the control; proposals for improving the substantiation of the management decisions (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 30).

b) The methodological system of financial control

The control establishes if the economic and financial activity is being organized and carried out according to the established norms, principles or rules. In order to know and improve the economic-financial activity a methodological system is needed that contributes to the reflecting of reality, legality and efficiency (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 30).

From a methodological point of view, the control is a knowledge process that needs several moments: knowing the established situation, knowing the real situation, knowing the deviations by comparing the real situation with the established one, conclusions, proposals and measures (Craciun, 2002). Being a process structured on the basis of the enumerated moments, the control methodology needs (Figure 3):

  • formulating the control’s objectives;
  • defining the objectives depending on the forms of financial control (preventive, operative, subsequent control);
  • the organs or the areas that are legally competent to carry out the control upon the established objectives;
  • the information sources needed for control (primary documents, technical-operative records, and accounting records);
  • using the control proceedings and techniques that contribute to knowing the controlled activity;
  • establishing deficiencies, shortcomings and deviations;
  • drawing out the control acts where are registered the findings;
  • the modalities of finalization and capitalization of the control activity;
  • establishing how efficient was the control in preventing and solving the deficiencies and shortcomings and in improving the controlled activity (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 30).

As a system, the control methodology is a combination of the proceedings and methods, of the principles and means that enable the activity of control.

One uses in a differentiated manner, depending on the nature of the control activity, on the forms of financial control, on the information sources needed for the control, on the nature of the existent deviations elements which build a system of methodological instruments. The control methodology uses its own ways and modalities of research, as well as methodological instruments of other scientific disciplines (mathematics, accounting, law, management, finance, computer science, etc.). The main component of the control methodology is the totality of research, knowledge and improvement methods applied to the economic-financial activity: the general study carried out beforehand upon the activity to be controlled; the control of the accounting records; the control of the facts; the economic-financial analysis; the total control and the random control; capitalization of the findings (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 30).

The financial control method

The object of any financial-accounting control is the research of economic operations or processes in order to establish the evolution, the stage or their correctness in connection with the program, the set objectives, and the legal norms that regulates them (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 30).

From a theoretical point of view, but especially from a practical point of view, the financial control method represents the way of research and action within a system of mutual conditioning of all methods, techniques, control instruments, in order to prevent, establish and remove possible shortcomings, deviations or deficiencies found in carrying out the economic-financial and the accounting activities. Therefore, the method represents the logical system that needs a scientific way of research and activity, a methodological system that serves for reflecting the reality, the legality and the efficiency of the controlled activities (Munteanu, 2003).

Figure 3: The methodological system of control

controllingmethods_figure3

Source: Lefter et al., 2007, p. 31

The quality of the control activity and its results depend to a large extent on the methods, techniques and instruments used. In order to reach the objective of the control, one uses different techniques and methods for verifying the controlled activity, that differ and have a typical content, adapted to the actual circumstances, depending on the nature of the controlled activity, the forms of financial control, the sources of information for the control, the possibilities of improving the controlled activity. The financial control is a practical activity. The suitable choice of the control criteria, of the control techniques and methods contributes decisively to achieving the set objective. There are several specific control methods (Figure 3) that appeared due to practical requirements of control and that aim at the increase of the control’s efficiency (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 31).

The control method represents a totality of specific rules, techniques and instruments that are used, in combination with professionalism, in order to concretely solve the problems derived from the functions of control (Munteanu, 2003). In practice, the use of typical techniques and methods of control (such as the evaluation, the guiding, the judgment, the analysis, the income budget, the annual or quarter financial statements, the explanatory report, mathematic instruments, informational and informatics techniques, etc.), have as purpose to prevent, to find and to remove eventual shortcomings, deviations or deficiencies from the activities of patrimonial units. In addition, applying with discrimination the typical control techniques and methods allow the control organs to estimate correctly the economic-financial state of the patrimonial unit and establishes the ways of making the unit more efficient (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 31).

Methods and techniques of financial control

The variety of economic activities, the interaction and their mutual conditioning require the diversification of the control proceedings. These control proceedings can be used simultaneously, successively, in the same process or can be used separately. From the methods used in control, Lefter et al. (2007, pp. 31-32) mentioned the following ones:

I. The general study carried out in advance

The general study carried out (Table 2) in advance enables the control organs to know the essential and specific elements of the activity to be controlled and based on these elements, the activity of organizing and conducting the control is focused on the objectives that require special attention. This study offers the control organ the possibility of knowing the way the control activities are or were carried out. It can be global or detailed; it refers both at the controlled units and at the content of the control activities.

Table 2: The objectives and the information sources of the general study carried out in advance

controllingmethods_table2

Source: Lefter et al., (2007, p. 32).

Being a method in the financial control, the general study carried out in advance has the following objectives (Table 2):

  • the requirements deriving from the norms in force for that particular field of activity, that need to be known by the control organs for their orientation towards the aspects that must be considered in the control activity;
  • the orientations, the instructions, the competences and the responsibilities in the internal structure of the patrimonial unit where the control is carried out;
  • the study concerning the way in which the accounting and technical-operative records are organized, as source of information for control;
  • knowing the real situation concerning the activity that will be controlled.

The general study carried out in advance has as source of information the legal norms, the previous control statements, the accounting records, the statements of the collective management organs, the consulting with the management of the controlled compartments.

II. The control of the accounting documents

The control of the accounting documents is the control most frequently used in the economic and financial practice. It can be preventive or ulterior and it is carried out on the basis of the documents it reflects (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The control of the accounting documents

controllingmethods_figure4

Source: Lefter et al., 2007, p. 32

The control of the accounting documents is the method that establishes the reality, the legality and the efficiency of the economic and financial operations and activities, by examining the primary and centralizing documents in the technical-operative and accounting records of the financial statements (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 32). The main techniques of control are (Lefter et al., 2007, pp. 32-34):

a) The chronological control is carried out as the documents are drawn out, booked and filed. The documents are examined every day, in a raw, in the order in which they are kept, without any previous grouping or systematization.

b) The chronologic control in reverse order is carried out from the end towards the beginning of the control period. One begins with the control of the most recent operations and documents and the control is conducted from the present to the past. It is used when it is \ necessary to establish the moment in which the deviation happened or to follow the development process of the operations that are connected with the deviation.

c) The systematic control requires grouping the documents depending on problems (bank, cash register, supply, etc.) and then requires their control in chronological order.

d) The mutual control consists in researching and confronting (in the same entity), documents or records with identical content, but different in form, for the same operation or for different, but interconnected operations.

e) The crossed control consists in the reconstruction and comparison of all the copies of a document existent at the controlled unit and at other units from which were received or to which were supplied materials, services or other values (example: the copy of the receipt in the receipt book is compared with the original of the receipt that is at the payer). This control represents an external confirmation of the data put down in the documents or in the records of the controlled units.

f) The combined or mixed control requires grouping the acts depending on types, problems or operations and examining each set of documents in the chronological order or in the reverse chronological order of the process of drawing them out or filing them.

g) The investigation of control means studying problems that do not result clearly from the documents and records put at disposal. The information is obtained from the persons whose activity is being controlled.

h) The general analysis and study are used with the purpose to obtain proofs/evidence of the control (example: examining the debtors and creditors of some accounts, in order to determine the correctness of registering economic and financial operations). This is useful for the control of the accounting that may contain wrong bookings or for controls that need detailed information.

i) The comparison of control consists in the comparative examination of different balances from the analytical records with the ones from the controlled accounts. The comparison with previous data (example: the expenses of the current year with the ones of the previous year) is frequently used in the case of this technique.

j) The control calculus requires re-making the accounting bookings. With this proceeding is obtained evidence about the exactness of the data from the accounting records.

k) The critical exam is realized by examining the papers, documents and records, trying to pay attention to the problems that are more important.

l) The accounting analysis: with the help of this analysis are established the accounts where the operation will be recorded and the relationship between the accounts. Any economic and financial operation is submitted to an analysis before recording in the accounts. The accounting analysis consists in researching each economic operation, on the basis documents, in order to establish the correspondent accounts and their parts (debit or credit) where that operation will be entered (Dragan, 2004). This analysis precedes the recording of the operations in the accounts.

m) The analytical balances of accounts are used for controlling the correspondence between the data of a synthetic account and the ones from their analytical accounts. In the bookkeeping, the active and passive elements are reflected both as a whole and in their component parts, with the help of the synthetic and analytical accounts. The qualitative and quantitative expression creates optimal conditions for conducting the control. The analytical balances of control are drawn out for each synthetic account split in analytical accounts, based on the data taken from the analytical accounts, before the synthetic control balance is drawn out.

n) The synthetic balance of control requires the control of the entries by comparing each analytical control balance with the respective sums of the synthetic account from the synthetic balance of accounting control. In the system of accounts, the operations resulted from the movement and the material and financial transformations are reflected on the basis of the principle of the double booking. The functioning way of the accounts reaches a peak in the accounting science through the double booking, which is a methodological proceeding that gives the infallible character of the accounting; this is considered an ideal system for the record of the administrated capital and patrimony seen from a double perspective: economic values and obligations or resources (Dragan, 2004). This principle is observed by means of the synthetic balance of accounting control that contributes to guaranteeing the exactness of the bookings made in the accounts and guaranteeing the drawing out of some real and complete financial statements. With the help of this proceeding are determined:

  • the recording omissions (the economic operation is booked neither in debit nor in credit);
  • the compensation errors (reporting wrongly the sums from the journal or from the documents in “Cartea – Mare”);
  • the charge errors (reporting an exact sum from the journal in “Cartea – Mare”, both in debit and in credit, but not under the correct accounts) (Munteanu, 2003).

o) The chess control balance helps to detect the errors that do not influence equalities. These errors may have as cause: wrongly establishing the correspondent account, inversing the accounting formula, registering an operation twice both in debit and in credit, drawing out a correct accounting formula, but with the wrong sums. Through this proceeding one can identify the lack of correlation between the accounts, the compensation and the charge errors.

In practice, in certain cases, in the case of control one can make use of unofficial documents and records, too. The unofficial documents and records are the result of the initiative of the persons that draw them out with the purpose of justifying some values (hand receipt, personal records, etc.). They are considered written proofs that enable examining the official documents and records. The conclusions obtained on the basis of these unofficial documents and records are taking into consideration by the controlling persons only if they are confirmed by official and legal documents and records. In order to find deviations and shortcomings and in order to argue conclusion about unrecorded facts or facts wrongly recorded in documents and records, one uses specific techniques and modalities for the financial accounting control, such as (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 34):

  • The quantitative reconstitution of some global quantitative records, on the basis of inventories and administration papers;
  • The comparison of control that concerns establishing the possible maximum stocks (reduced goods). The maximum possible stock equals the balance at the initial inventory plus the good input based on documents minus the goods output based on documents.

The control comparison is carried out between the possible maximum determined stock and the stock of the last inventory. Three situations can occur: greater than the stock from the last inventory, smaller than this one or equal with it.

  • The goods input correlated depending on consume, liberations or sales. One compares the existent possible stock with the input at that date or around that date. This method is used in the following cases (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 34):
  1. i) the stocks with global-quantitative record, where selling the goods is made on sales slip. It has the role of discovering deviations or lacks covered with documents or evidences, the validity of some inventory documents, etc.;
  2. ii) the stocks with global-quantitative record with payment directly at sale, without sale slip. As a rule, the stock’s situation is established after making the inventory and comprises the period from the last inventory until the next inventory. The controlled inventory period is situated between two running periods (Munteanu, 2003).
  • The correlation of accounting documents in order to establish the reality of an economic fact correlated with other facts of mutual influence;
  • The inter-inventories control shows whether there is a connection between the pluses from an inventory and the minuses from another inventory and if are fulfilled the conditions of legal compensation. If it’s made, this compensation represents an exception and, according to this exception, the compensation of goods can operate between pluses and minuses and only for the same inventory period and for the same inventory.

III. The factual control

The factual control has as objective to exactly determine the existent quantities and values, their condition, the processing stage/phase/period and the processing method, the observing of the law in their utilization. The main techniques of factual control are (Lefter et al., 2007, pp. 34-35):

a) The inventory has as object the finding (at a certain moment) of the qualitative and quantitative elements of assets and liabilities of a patrimonial unit. The inventory is a typical control technique. As control technique, it is not identical with the periodical inventory of the financial administration or of the entire patrimony. In order to deliver results, the inventory must be carried out suddenly and started simultaneously for the whole unit.

b) The technical survey and the laboratory analysis are used when the problems raised during the control are beyond the legal competence, knowledge level or the equipment that is at the disposal of the control organs. The technical surveys are used in order to establish the integrity of the material values, the reality of some operations, knowing some working parameters etc. The laboratory analyses are used with the purpose of establishing the quality of the structure/composition or the content of certain materials, works, and products.

c) The direct observation is a technique used in the concomitant control and consists in observing on the spot the way certain activities are carried out.

d) The physical inspection consists in examining the assets and other resources. It is a reliable evidence for finding the existence of a certain asset position, of the fix assets, etc. The documentary/reference control is linked with the factual control and in this manner is established by the way the goods are administrated and the quality of the information concerning the controlled activity.

IV. The total control or the random control

The total control comprises all the operations from the established objectives and during the entire controlled period. It is the most comprehensive and reliable control, but it cannot always be applied. The random control researches the most representative documents and operations and enables the drawing of conclusions on the objective in view. Usually the random control is carried out and if major irregularities are found, the control expands and becomes total. The total control is carried out through various control modalities:

a) The simultaneous control is carried out simultaneously for certain similar or related objectives that can be easily substituted.

b) The complete control consists in a group of measures that have as purpose obtaining the certainty that the evidence for the operations is accurate and complete.

c) The continuous and permanent control is carried out without interruptions in duration or intensity and comprises all the goods that are subject to control.

d) The periodical control is organized at regular intervals and is carried out unexpectedly.

e) The direct control is a simultaneous control. It applies to the objectives that are controlled during the carrying out of that particular activity (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 35).

V. The economic-financial analysis

Lefter et al., (2007, p. 35) mentioned that the economic-financial analysis is a research method based on splitting up or separating an object or a phenomenon into component parts. By means of the techniques typical for this method, each element is being separately examined, the cause/effect causes are established, and are determined the trends and fluctuations of various indicators (Oprean, 2002). The analysis completes the control with some aspects that cannot be pointed out by other control methods. It contributes to focusing the control on the essential problematical aspects. The control cannot confine itself to finding the shortcomings. It is necessary to establish the level and the dynamic of the examined phenomena, the factors that influenced the evolution of the controlled phenomena, the correlation between these factors and the phenomena. Although the analysis and the verification are two different lines of action, they are mutually conditioned. In order to make a quality analysis, real information is needed and therefore it is necessary to verify in advance the accounting documents in respect to form and content; afterwards will follow an economic-financial analysis (Munteanu, 2003). On the other hand, the documentary check uses the conclusions of the economic-financial analysis with the purpose of focusing on the sectors, factors and causes that have a negative influence upon the economic-financial situation of the patrimonial unit (Oprean, 2002). The economic-financial analysis is carried out by means of typical techniques such as (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 35):

a) Techniques for establishing the cause-effect relationships between the phenomena. Examples: the consistency of the examined object and the circumstances or conditions in which this took place.

b) The division and the breaking up insure the depth of the study of the economic financial activity, the time or space localization of the causes and the deviations.

c) Grouping, meaning the separation of the controlled operations into homogenous groups, depending on one or several criteria, depending on the purpose in view.

d) The balance of the elements and their variations are used when, among the elements of the controlled phenomena, there are sum and differences relations (for instance: the relation between the production volume of sold and cashed merchandise equals the initial stocks and the opening balances plus the volume of the fabricated production minus the final stocks and statement balances).

e) The operational correlation is used in adopting decisions when many factors interfere and must be taken into consideration. The control methods and techniques typical for each method are presented in Table 3 (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 35).

Table 3: Methods and techniques of financial control

controllingmethods_table3

Source: Lefter et al., (2007, p. 36). 

The concept and tasks of bank controlling

Basically bank controlling means there is good harmony among profitability, growth and risk-taking factors. It embraces the fields of management, planning, balance-income analysis, bank calculation, control, coordination and organization. Western banks’ controlling concept– including banks in Germany- uniformly based on this concept, certainly it means there can be differences between the techniques used by banks to put it into practice. All these statements show that controlling is a philosophy and a way of thinking, which can be extended to the decentralized management area also through information management. Thus bank controlling is able to become a management information centre (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 14). Several different definitions regarding controlling in the overview literature; from which one of them gives a clear definition and covers bank controlling and its role in banking control the best (Horváth, 2012). “Controlling is – from the functional point of view – a management subsystem, which coordinates planning, control and information provision”. This definition can be built in a commercial bank’s organizational and operational system.

First and foremost Zéman et al. (2013, p. 14) stated that the main tasks of controlling just like in every other field, are actual and only because of the special nature of the “product” (in bank controlling the product is the different banking transactions such as cash flow management, lending, investment etc.) its role can expand and develop according to the banking sector. The main tasks and functions of bank controlling are the following:

  1. Improving accounting system towards management accounting
  2. Planning – strategic planning and operative planning
  3. Plan-fact analysis -cost analysis, income analysis, risk analysis, expected future trend analysis
  4. Information provision: managerial information system development of reporting system with ban appropriate IT support (Zéman et al., 2013, pp. 14-15).

These controlling tasks and their weights depend on the size of the bank, its profile, the size of its network. The author’s distinguish centralized and decentralized tasks. The ones that focuses on the whole bank and the coordination, integration of the different activities on its various fields are considered to be the centralized controlling functions which basically synchronize the active and passive business activities. They talk about decentralized controlling functions in case it targets only a part of the bank at a given planning period. Certainly, the size and function of a bank or financial institute plays a crucial role when judging centralized and decentralized controlling tasks. Centralized controlling tasks can be found in small and medium sized banks. Table (4) summarized the banking services as the degree of centralization/decentralization (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 15). 

Table 4: Subdivision of banking services

controllingmethods_table4

Source: Zéman et al. (2013, p. 15).

Moreover, the different controlling activities of centralized/decentralized tasks are summarized as the followings (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 15):

  • Centralized tasks: developing business policy, profitability and risk analysis, profit requirement calculation, expenditure plan calculation, systematic evaluation of target theme implementation, development of integrated plan-fact controlling system, developing business policy alternatives, developing managerial information system.
  • Decentralized tasks: developing decision oriented mentality, decentralized expenditure plan, implementing certain planning and controlling tasks, regulation of information process.

 Strategic and operative bank controlling

The two-level or two-step management method of the controlling activity can be achieved through strategic and operative bank controlling. This closely linked “two-step planning” gives the integrated bank concept. On the first step basically is the outline of the bank’s overall comprehensive strategic objectives – as the market risk and opportunity – and also the risk policy targets and structural profit requirements. As a second step – particularly balance sheet structure optimization – the operational management of profitability and liquidity are defined through plan-fact budget control system. So the strategic controlling activity regarding the bank as a whole deals with only developmental, structural and security issues; mostly with the balance sheet structure risks, market risks, structural yield options, growth potentials (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 15).

Bank leadership oriented accounting

Essentially the accounting system of the banks is an information system which aims to satisfy both internal and external information needs as much as possible. Bank accounting systems are based on the Accounting Act, the accounting rules for financial institutions, tax legislations and (as a result of the international nature of the financial institutions and obligatory of the audited balance sheet) on the generally accepted accounting principles. The specifications of bank accounting arises primarily from the “uniqueness” of accounting, bank balance structure and also from accrual and detection. So that formulation of these factors should be used as basic requirements. When developing a leadership oriented system, the following tasks must be met in a bank (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 16):

  • against the traditional cost-income aspect, expenditures and incomes should be grouped according to return-input; to be able to measure efficiency,
  • we must separate costs into types and location of costs,
  • fixed and variable costs must be defined for different functions,
  • ensure resolution of details that allows the developed bank controlling system’s planning and management information system to be updated.
  • distinguish transactional and operational bank activities and the related accounting procedures.

Overall, Zéman et al. (2013, p. 16) could broadly define controlling as the information centre of management, where management knowledge is collected grouped and transmitted in a way to make it possible for the different areas of banking activities to harmonize them with its main targets.

Controlling planning and control (GAP Analysis) special prevalence in the banking sector

Zéman et al. (2013, p. 17) mentioned that planning and control have to have a strong correlation because the only possibility for management to act in time are the well-developed appropriations and actual data during planning.

The functions of planning -in banking terms- are the following:

  • Information and documentation function: have written records of the goals to be achieved set by the organization
  • Coordination-integration function: coordinating the activities of the different bank areas in order to make the operation of the organization more efficient.
  • Incentive-motivating function: the organization sets living goals and rewards their compliance and sanctions failures. In case these individuals, groups are also taking part in the planning process then their commitment to the developed plan would greatly increase (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 17).

The more complex the organization is the higher the formalization of the planning system gets. The necessity of the formalization of planning is in disputable both in theory and practice but the appropriate degree of formalization is controversial. Formalization must not increase time investment and expenditure and limit flexibility significantly. Moreover, they stated that when developing the strategy, the following factors needed to be examined (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 17):

a. Market of financial services

The bank has to measure what services, at what price can be found currently on the market and accordingly determine its services. It has to measure its current activities and their growth scenario and consider the opportunity of developing new products and their introduction to the market.

b. Who are the market actors, current and future competitors, and potential allies?

Actors must be interpreted broadly because there are other organizations beside commercial banks such as insurance companies, savings banks, specialized financial institutions and financial advisors.

c. What is their customer base?

Every bank has a unique customer base. We can group customers in several ways (population, entrepreneur, budgetary institutions etc.). Each of them requires different strategies.

d. Types of competitive factors

Factors such as quality and quantity of the services, price competition, availability, promotions and public relations play an important role.

e. Is there an adequate situation for technological environment?

Basically the banks’ current situation are defined by communication systems and information technology. The more innovation are introduced, the more old products disappear.

The strategic plans do not end with the outline of a long-term action plan. The following standpoints must be met (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 17):

  • the values (given when outlined goals) must be relevant, accepted objectives must be measurable, verifiable, degree of the differences and completion should be definable exactly,
  • plans must be feasible, motivating and must not be frustrating.

Strategic planning in banks is used on the highest management level, broken into periods. During strategic planning different analytical methods are applied such as the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis or gap analysis.

Furthermore, the operative plans can provide clear guidance -for those who are in charge of realization – for next year’s activity. The definition of responsible units and target value is completed during operative planning. The responsible units must be separated in a way that the unit manager could influence – with dispositive decisions – the implementation of the plan, compliance with the budget and also to be responsible for these. Finally, the most common responsible unit in banks are as the following (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 17):

  • branches, as independent and spatially separated units, normally called as profit or investment centres,
  • line of businesses, as strategic business units with their own incomes and costs,
  • units with central functions, called cost-centres,
  • individual projects, called investment centres.

 Conclusions

The control serves for dynamic, preventive and real-time delivery of information and increases the quality of decisions. It reaches the essence of the phenomena, notices the negative aspects when they appear as tendency and intervenes operatively for preventing and cancelling the causes. The control evaluates the results in comparison with the established norms and objectives, but it also contributes to preventing tendencies and phenomena that need corrective decisions. The control represents a form of improving the manner in which the patrimony is administrated, a form of organizing and conducting the activity of patrimonial units (Lefter et al., 2007, p. 29).

Financial management can be define as an element of the corporations’ management system. It is a subsystem that is responsible to do the governing, planning, organizing and controlling of financial processes and coordinates the financial function on the operational and strategic level according to the company goals. Within this framework, it takes a part in determining of the strategy beside the top management and supporting it simultaneously. It is responsible for the realization of the financial strategy and the realization of the supporting operational plans, for developing the organization, information system and other conditions (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 32).

Financial controlling can be a very important tool for financial management, as it takes over some management functions, according to working mechanism of common controlling. It fulfils the financial planning on the strategic and operational levels and it synchronizes and coordinates the development and realization of financial plans with the other subsystems’ information, to get a consistent corporate plan as a result. Financial controlling focuses on the financial structure of the company beside the flow like motions, to keep stable financial positions, liquidity and desired rate of returns of capital, profitability and stable growth in corporate value (Zéman et al., 2014, p. 38).

The operative plan can be only backed by the strategy. Otherwise, it would not be clear on what path the bank goes on. According to the special banking activities we can emphasize the main controlling fields regarding to planning are financial controlling, cost controlling and result controlling. Management tasks of the banks are provided by integrating two well-defined sub-fields (controlling functions of the bank’s internal operation and service). This integration can only be achieved by linking planning, plan-fact analysis and information service functions together. Finally, an annual planning has a significant role in a way that it reveals the feasibility of the strategic plan. Therefore, the strategic plan can be reconsidered if the annual plan seems have difficulties (Zéman et al., 2013, p. 17). 

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