Unit 13: Professional Relationships

Listen to the recording as you read the text. Then complete the activities.

Relationships are important in every aspect of your life, and this is equally true for those working in the accounting profession.

The accounting department is a key point of contact for both a company's customers and suppliers and as such the staff employed in the department must know how to deal with people in a variety of situations. In this article we will examine how these staff should behave in certain situations, and why very often they don't.

Imagine you work as a purchase ledger clerk, you are in the middle of preparing a report for your supervisor and you receive a phone call from one of your suppliers. The supplier wants to know why their invoice hasn't been paid. What do you do?.

When dealing with this kind of situation it is important to try to satisfy the creditor so that if the company uses them again there will be a good working relationship. Of course, prompt payment of the outstanding invoice is the best way to achieve this but it may not always be possible so it is vital that you are polite and explain the reasons for the late-payment of the invoice honestly. If you are waiting for payment authorization, you should assure your supplier that you will try to speed up the process. If you are withholding payment for any reason, you must clarify why this is happening and what is needed for payment to be made.

Remember that a contented supplier is more likely to agree to discounts, faster delivery terms or any other requests which are made of them. Much of the same can be true working as a sales ledger clerk. Imagine the situation where you are reconciling the sales ledger and you notice that one of your customers has exceeded their credit terms. You need to contact your debtor and chase payment but again you have to remember that they are a customer so it is important that they are treated well if you want them to use the company again.

The first thing to do is to check the customers record to see if this is a one-time event or if they have a history arrears. If this is the first time, then the chances are it is either an oversight on the part of their accounts payable department or there is a valid reason such as a discrepancy in the invoice - in either case a quick phone call to their accounts department can sort it out.

There is, however, the chance that the breach of payment terms is a result of something more serious such as a dispute over the invoice or goods received, or that the customer is having cash-flow problems and is unable to pay the invoice. In this case, a phone call may not help and you may be forced to refer the issue to your supervisor to resolve.

It is not only external relationships which are important to the success of the accounting department, internal ones can be just as crucial and just as difficult to maintain.

Take the case of the payroll clerk in a sales based company.

It is their duty to process the salaries, commissions and incentives for all members of staff. This means having good working relationships with all department managers responsible for providing information on the amount of commissions and incentives to be paid to each staff member. These relationships are necessary to ensure that all information can be processed in a timely manner, staff paid on time and tax remitted by the correct deadline.

Now continue to the Activities