Accounts payable fraud exists in various forms, and unfortunately it is on the rise globally as fraudsters find new ways to impersonate vendors and suppliers, falsify data, and trick finance teams into making fake disbursements.
We know from our 2022 global study, that nearly half of finance teams (44%) know a victim of accounts payable fraud in the last three years. This frightening statistic highlights the prevalence of fraud, and how it contributes to huge losses in companies each year.
But are finance teams doing enough to protect themselves?
Our recent LinkedIn Poll highlighted a ‘lack of controls’ as the biggest weakness in finance teams leaving them exposed to fraud. Furthermore, the second biggest weakness was a ‘lack of team training’.
Having the right technology and robust processes will get you so far, but it’s the people and teams that will strengthen and maximise your overall defences.
Here are three ways you can make your AP team the best form of defence against fraud:
1. Finance fraud training
It’s much harder to spot fraud if you don’t even know what you are looking for. There are many warning signs that indicate fraudulent behaviour, but are your team trained to recognise these?
It was a positive story from our recent LinkedIn Poll where 57% respondents say they have received fraud training within the last 6 months. However, 21% had training over 12 months ago and a further 21% have never received training.
By embedding mandatory training into your team every year, you can ensure they stay aware of the latest fraud tactics and techniques (as new ones will emerge each year).
Fraud training can take many forms, but one option is online certification, meaning your team members will become certified fraud prevention specialists.
Continual learning keeps the topic current and reminds team members to stay alert.
Fraud training should also be part of an induction for any new starters so everyone in the team has a good base knowledge to build on with continual learning and development.
2. Create fraud experts and specialists
Whilst all team members should have a sound understanding of finance fraud, you can take this even further by creating dedicated fraud specialists within the team.
These specialists are the first point of contact for any fraud queries or questions and can escalate anything to finance manager
The fraud specialist(s) can be tasked with defining and reviewing your departmental fraud processes and controls, to ensure they are providing you with enough protection.
They can also carry the important responsibility of keeping the wider team educated and trained on new fraud trends and techniques.
This could take a variety of forms but could include:
- Quarterly / bi-annual ‘lunch and learn’ sessions for the team, to run through the latest information and how to spot the signs.
- Encouraging team members to attend free webinars to hear about the latest fraud trends.
3. Build an anti-fraud culture
By starting at the top with Senior Leaders and setting the tone companywide, an anti-fraud culture should raise awareness of fraud and promote due diligence across all employees.
Hear from our partner FISCAL Technologies, with some top tips on how to create an anti-fraud culture in your company.
“It is important to create a culture where all employees understand how and why they are accountable for preventing fraud. This includes the organisation’s leadership, who by demonstrating their role in fraud prevention, set the standard that other teams will follow.
Tactically, as well as regular training, anti-fraud duties should be part of all roles. It must be acceptable for your team to spend time learning about fraud and evaluating any potentially fraudulent activity they see, and where confidential whistleblowing is not the last resort.
Due to the constantly evolving and increasingly sophisticated methods used to perpetrate fraud, as well as the established ‘basic’ methods, controls around systems and processes are essential. In an anti-fraud culture, AP teams should be encouraged to work with controls, not wrestle against them – this is one area where the relentless pursuit of efficiency should not override time spent working with controls and procedures.”
In addition to fraud prevention controls and processes, don’t forget about investing in your team as your most powerful defence. It is – after all – the team who manage the everyday activity and processes, so the investment should also be on them.
Below are some useful resources to help your team be better equipped to deal with fraud.
- On-demand webinar: Are Fraudsters Targeting Your AP Department?
- Fraud Trends Report: Accounts Payable Fraud 2022 Research Report
Training and Certification Courses
Our Certified Fraud Prevention Specialist programme provides the knowledge, skills and techniques required to mitigate the risk of fraud within the Accounts Payable department, in particular with the Vendor Masterfile.
Feel free to contact us for any bespoke training requirements.