I am in and, healthy body permitting, I shall be running the New York Marathon on 3 November this year. As I have now committed to my training, which is very time-consuming and involves a whole lot of running, you may find that a number of my posts will mention running, in addition to financial forensics.
Before I head out on my long weekend run, I pull out a tube of Beljum Budder skin lubricant and apply it to any part of my body that I believe is vulnerable to chafing. Let me explain how chafing, while running long distances, happens. Long distance running involves spending long periods of time, usually hours for those of us who are not elite runners, engaged in repetitive body movements. This means parts of our bodies will, over and over again, rub, either against each other or against the fabric of our clothing.These small actions can end up rubbing layers of skin off our bodies, causing pain and sometimes bleeding. There are two things that lead me to believe that a certain body part is susceptible to chafing: first is that I have received this information from fellow runners and second is that I have been chafed. Yesterday, for example, I got home to find that I had rubbed skin off my arm, where I had strapped a water bottle, and off my back (I am not sure how that happened). As a result, these two areas have been added to the list of what to protect before heading out on my runs. Once I know that a part of my body runs the risk of being chafed, I protect it. I don’t wait to see if it will be chafed again or if the fellow runner was being too cautious. I protect it all. I try to be proactive about preventing the chafe. This is because, even though I tend not to feel it while it is happening, once the running is over, chafing hurts. A lot. It is something I am very motivated to keep from happening.
This is how it should be with your personal and business finances. At the start of when people steal from you, they tend to take a little at a time. They do this on purpose because they don’t want you to notice that they are exploring, exposing and exploiting the weaknesses in your safeguarding system. They don’t want you to notice that they are stealing from you. They want to get away with it and continue stealing. So you should be proactive about protecting your assets. You should follow a two-pronged approach where you take the steps generally advised and also take firm steps whenever you find particular weaknesses in your system. Some pointers to follow are:
- If you come across a party stealing from you, perform an investigation to discover the extent of the theft and, if need be, hire a financial forensics professional to perform the investigation.
- Take steps to prevent future theft. This may include pressing charges against the thief or terminating their employment (if they are employee).
- Assess your control systems to find where there are holes are and close them. In a company small things like the separation of duties, regular reviews of the financials by more than one party and keeping tangible assets under lock and key go a long way toward protecting assets.
- Conversely, don’t make your accounting system overly complex. The more complex a system is, the fewer people there will be that understand it, giving potential criminal many ways to hide any pilfering of money and assets they may do.
- Keep an eye out for employees living beyond their means. For example, if you have an employee who earns $30,000 a year but drives a Porsche, it may be smart to investigate whether or not you are the unwitting benefactor.
- Protecting your personal finances is important as well. Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly, at least on a weekly basis. I don’t know of a bank that does not offer online access to its customers, so take advantage of it and stay on top of what is going on in your account. If you see a transaction that looks unfamiliar, look into to and call your bank if need be. That’s your money so don’t be shy about making sure you have authorized withdrawals.
- If you are an individual with complicated or substantial assets, it makes sense to seek the advice and services of a financial professional.
Protect yourself. Take the steps to strengthen the systems you have to keep your assets safe and, whenever you find vulnerabilities, take extra proactive steps. You do not want to find a big gaping hole in your finances. I am guessing that, in the same way chafing does, that big old hole will hurt. A lot.