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Expanded Financial Fraud Enforcement

A record number of actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission this year send a strong message to finance professionals that the SEC is very fraud focused and looking to file cases.

For the recently ended FY 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed 807 enforcement actions covering a wide range of misconduct totaling $4.2 billion in penalties! Of the 807 actions filed in fiscal year 2015, a record 507 were independent actions for violations of the federal securities laws. And, 300 were either actions for delinquent filings with the SEC or related criminal convictions, civil injunctions, or other legal orders.

Additionally, a review of recent actions indicates that SEC is looking more closely at specific internal controls and failures. Such actions brought to light cases that are based on accounting errors from misjudgments on things like estimates or reserves, compensation disclosures and related-party transactions. All of this indicates that the SEC is taking action on activities that reach well beyond simple fraud.

Accounting and finance leaders must understand that the SEC and the Department of Justice actions are naming individuals - including a former audit committee chair, partners, CEOs, CFOs, and accounting directors. In some cases the government has also brought criminal charges against individuals.

The message from the federal government is loud and clear: Companies and Boards must focus on internal controls. The Board of Directors and its audit committee are responsible for overseeing the actions of management. Corporate directors can no longer argue that they acted diligently in carrying out their responsibilities if they have failed to design a strong audit committee charter and timely perform all the functions specified. Fraud is on the government’s radar – it should be on yours as well.

Expanded Financial Fraud Enforcement

Managing Finance Millennials

Much has been written and discussed about millennials and their unique workplace attitudes. By definition, millennials are employees who were born between 1982 and 1996, and because they grew up with unprecedented access to technology and parents who were deeply involved in their academic and social development, many respond differently to management techniques than employees from other generations. As a finance leader, it is important to know how to work best with millennial employees, and what gets results. Here are three general tips for working with millennial accounting and finance employees

Deliver the Details

Millennials work best in defined systems that include clear instruction and established outcomes. While many millennial employees want some flexibility in how they reach the desired deliverable, they do not do well unless the parameters of a project are well defined. As a result, accounting and finance millennials want managers who explain exactly what is expected. This means going beyond indicating that a report or data set is needed, to explaining the exact information desired, in what format it should be delivered, and even providing an example of the deliverable expected. This ensures you get exactly what you need, and provides the employee with the information they require to be successful.

Good Vibrations

Millennial employees require more feedback and positive reinforcement than other generations of employees. The old adage of “no news is good news” does not work for this group. They define their value in the workplace by the degree and frequency of positive feedback they receive. And, they quickly become dissatisfied with a work environment that is low on reinforcement and positive communications. Meaning, that if you supervise millennial accountants or other finance professionals, you need to build ongoing feedback into your management approach. Be certain to comment when millennial employees do well. Ongoing feedback does not just provide the employee reassurance, it gives managers an opportunity to mold performance by reinforcing desired actions and behaviors.

Ask for Input

Because millennials grew up in an era where their parents constantly sought their opinions, they are keen to share their views. Savvy finance leaders know regular meetings in which the team is asked to share their insights are excellent ways to engage millennials. While their views might not always gel with others on the team, they do have a unique perspective and often see or hear things different than other employees. These differences in vantage point can be highly valuable – especially when the accounting team needs to interact with clients or other employees who are also millennials.

While managing millennials can be challenging; they are smart, tech-savvy, and resourceful workers who bring new ideas and energy to any team.

Managing Finance Millennials