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Does anyone have a year-end Accounting activity checklist?

Year End Accounting Checklist

I am looking for a lsit of activities that need to be performed to close the books for the year and prepare for the financial audit.  I am hoping someone has a generic template they have used vs. me creating something.  Thanks.


(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Is your question related to system procedures to close the books more related to PBC (Prepared By Client) items expected by the outside CPA? Or are your looking to develop a financial close checklist?

For system procedures, your system should have a PDF Manual regarding month end and year end procedures.

For what the auditor will expect, call the audit manager and mention you are trying to help them be as efficient as possible so you are working ahead. Ask them for the tailored PBC List they need you to complete in advance of their arrival for field work. In addition, ask them if they would prefer any of the schedules you may have provided in the past be changed to better fit their needs. It is common for clients not to produce the format the auditor needs to facilitate their work (shifting to an auditor friendly format helps them to ask less questions and helps eliminate delays).

In my experience it is easier to make certain aspects of the year end audit needs part of month end production, reconciliations and analyses packages being the lion's share. If the monthlies follow the annual requirements then the year end work is already audit friendly.

Review the past management comments received from the auditors as well.

I don't have a template for you. You may need many templates, one for each area of accounting, AR, AP, GL, PR, FA, Cash, etc. But these may be more akin to procedures than an overall checklist so you will have to decide the level of detail.

Google is helpful in some cases to get you stated in pulling standard text to customize in case you don't receive the template you are hoping for.

Steven Bragg also has good process and controls resources although you may find they are too general.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Hi Regis,

You might want to take a look at this free white paper, also here on Proformative titled,
"A Faster Year End Close:"

I also found this free resource on Proformative posted by Anders Liu Lindberg, just in case you need a month end checklist. It's a nicely detailed Excel file:


Best... Sarah

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I agree with Ms. Campbell regarding Steven Bragg. His book "Fast Close" is an excellent resource, in my opinion. "Fast Close" has checklists for soft close items as well. The only check list I have is one that is nearly 2 years old and more than likely useless, unless of course your client is an MGA, even with if it were the list is outdated by now.

Robert Rochester
Title: VP & CFO
Company: Edcor Data Services LLC
(VP & CFO, Edcor Data Services LLC) |

I have one in my head. After doing year end closes for many, many years, I developed a methodology and an order to achieve a successful year end close. I define success as having a final P&L and B/S that stands up to auditor scrutiny. If there are no auditor recommended adjustments, the year end close was a success. First, I make sure all revenue is booked in accordance with GAAP. Then I root out any and all expenses that can/should be booked in the current year. After accomplishing that, I proceed to the balance sheet and verify that all asset and liability accounts are correct and have support for every dollar. My motto is "If you can't support it, it probably shouldn't be there." After scrubbing the B/S and writing off any/all "garbage", I proceed to year end reports. That is the short and sweet of it. BTW... I have had no auditor recommended adjustments since 2003.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I too, sad to say, have developed similar types of "in my head" year-end closes.

Sort doesn't help the replacement....

Christine Cressey
Title: CFO
Company: Custom Learning Designs, Inc.
(CFO, Custom Learning Designs, Inc.) |

A good place to start is to print a Trial Balance and have a reconciliation for each balance sheet account. As you perform your reconciliations make a list of tasks specific for your company. If you put the list into Excel it's an easy checklist. Add a column for "Performed by" and "Date completed"
You can sort it by Balance Sheet Account, or you can make a table of tasks and include date to be worked on and assigned to. you can then run pivot tables by person and or due date and or accounts. Good Luck.

Jerry Murphy
Title: Owner
Company: Jeremiah K. Murphy, CPA
(Owner, Jeremiah K. Murphy, CPA) |

There's no template, each business will have different procedures, etc. but you can plan for this and now is the time to do the planning. First I recommend having a meeting with all of the individuals who will participate in the closing process to discuss what will need to be done, when and by whom. Ask them for their input since they may have insights from the trenches that upper management doesn't have. At this or another meeting set out a calendar for the close. Assign specific dates by which time the specific process needs to be completed and to whom the report is to go. Hand out the entire calendar and give each participant a specific calendar for their part of the closing process. Write down all of the procedures! Nothing counts if it is just in your head. Distribute the entire closing process write up to all participants. Finally follow up with the individuals who are in charge of each procedure and make sure they have not run into a stumbling block. You can work out with them any issues as they come up.

Damon Butler
Title: CFO
Company: The Protective Group, Inc.
(CFO, The Protective Group, Inc.) |

I strive to make each month's close the same, so that our year-end closing process is no different than each of our monthly closes. We have a closing checklist we use each month and prepare reconciliations monthly as well. Any analyses; E&O inventory, bad debt reserve, commission accruals, tax provision are updated monthly. This keeps things fresh and prevents year-end from becoming a major undertaking.

Sheila Cunha
Title: Controller
Company: Florida Level & Transit Co.
LinkedIn Profile
(Controller, Florida Level & Transit Co.) |

I agree with Damon that the effort placed on the month end close will lead to a much smoother year end close. For years I have developed the habit of using a 3 ring binder for all of my month end schedules. I tab them off following down the trial balance (Cash, A/R, Inventory, Fixed Assets, Current Assets, etc.)

As part of my month end close, I tie out the balance sheet accounts and use Excel schedules to track what is open. I have seen many companies which do what I call a soft close -- they don't reconcile, make stock journal entries, and wind up at year end with a mountain of research time trying to locate valid prepaid insurance, etc.

If you do a hard close each month, being thorough in tying out and scheduling your balance sheet accounts, you will find that year end is smooth, and allows you to concentrate on those year-end entries (depreciation, inventory, reserves) that require an annual tweak.

Valerie's suggestion about calling the auditor is an excellent idea. The smoother the close, the less schedules and research will need be done by the CPA firm and less billing hours for you. I have year end templates of additional information the CPA requires at year end, I update these and send them along.

Nothing, in my opinion replaces doing a hard monthly close and keeping the balance sheet accounts reconciled and up to date. Every set of books and software has its own nuances, but soon enough you will find your footing.

John P. Hart
Title: Vice Pres - CFO
Company: Nova Pressroom Products, LLC
(Vice Pres - CFO, Nova Pressroom Products, LLC) |

The OP was requesting a check-list. You say you have one.
Can you share yours?

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

We have just recently implemented a checklist for month end, but I agree to the point that each business will have different procedures. For year end I would recommend agreeing on a PBC list with the auditors as also suggested.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I'm working with a new client that has some pretty funky month-end/year-end managerial and financial close issues (someone loved spreadsheets). Even with instructions its convoluted.

The more you document, and deeper the documentation the easier to train the next person.

System/Procedural documentation needs to be kept up to date!

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Documentation is important. It is too easy to push the documentation to the side because you're in a hurry to get the year closed so that taxes and the audit can be completed. For our company 2014 has been a terrific year. We've sold two properties, refinanced two properties, continued construction operations in new states, and many other projects. As the year has progressed I have taken for granted writing down things that need to be done at year end for tax purposes.

The audit portion is about to get more involved too. We used to have only one company audit done for the main company, however this year we get the privilege of having HUD audits done for a couple of properties we manage the books for. Needless to say, I will be creating a new checklist for these.

What has helped me is going back into past records that the company did before I came on board, going through past emails, even checking in with state revenue folks to see what has and hasn't been turned in. Then I create my to-do list, which I can add to the year end checklist.


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