Q: I have a client who has asked me to help him prepare financial statements. In looking at his books, they are completely a shambles. He has 7 (!) checking accounts, and not one of them can I reconcile in Quickbooks because it appears deposits were randomly recorded, or not recorded, checks were recorded with incorrect check numbers or not recorded, transfers were not recorded, etc. Soooo….. my thought, since they’ve been in QB for only 7 months, I might start from scratch and just record everything fresh. My question is, is there any way I can do this while they’re still working in QB? This job will take me a few weeks to complete, and I don’t want to tie their hands while I’m working on straightening out their financials.

A: Before I respond, I have a question for you: will this be an ongoing client where you will review their file and prepare financial statements on a monthly or quarterly basis going forward? The answer to this seemingly benign question will dictate part of how you move forward and the type of engagement you have.

In my opinion a few things need to happen.

First: train whomever is doing their data entry so that it is done correctly going forward. If they are not trained adequately, you will find yourself in the same boat in a few months. The only difference is you will have the added pressure of getting it done quickly because the client will need the year-end statements done for tax time.

Second: decide if anything in their file is salvageable. Was anything set up correctly (vendors, clients, COA)? Can you make heads or tails of any of the transactions? If not, you may need to throw in the towel and start afresh.

Third: the client can work in the file while you review historic information. If you are setting up the new file, set it up, create an accountant’s copy for yourself and send them a copy, make sure the dividing date is one where they can still work and input transactions. Keep in mind there are a few limitations for you (mostly payroll related). I’m not sure if that will create a real problem for you or not since you didnt’ mention if he had payroll transactions for you to reconcile.

Fourth: is there any reason they have SEVEN bank accounts??? If they don’t have a ready explanation, you may want to advise them to cut back on that. Even if they are all free business checking accounts, it’s costing them time & money in the long run. Trying to keep them all straight is obviously creating a problem for their staff person handling the input of deposits and processing checks and may be the source of a lot of the reconciliation/messiness of the client file.

Hope this helps,


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