THE IMPACT OF INTERNAL CONTROL SYSTEM ON THE PERFORMANCE OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS: CASE STUDY OF BANQUE ATLANTIQUE CAMEROUN S.A
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The financial sector considered a very sensitive sector and the life wire of every economy deserves proper attention. This study, therefore, sought to assess the impact of the internal control system on the performance of financial institutions with Banque Atlantique Cameroun S.A. as a case study. In evaluating the effectiveness of the internal control system in the said bank, data were collected from the two branches of the institution in the Fako Division, South West Region of Cameroun through the use of questionnaires.
The entire literature review of the internal control system was enumerated in chapter two through the search of relevant textbooks, journals, and other publications to ascertain the accounting measures of internal controls. In chapter three, the various methods of data collection were highlighted and the method to be used in this project was identified. A sample size of 43 staff was chosen. Data collected was analyzed in chapter four using SPSS with results presented in the form of frequency tables. The researcher made use of linear regression analysis as his statistical tool in testing the hypotheses. In chapter five, the researcher presented the summary of the findings and went further to make some recommendations and suggestions for improvement in some areas, and drew conclusions. Based on the findings, the null hypothesis was rejected while the alternative hypothesis was accepted. The study confirmed that the internal control system of Banque Atlantique Cameroun S.A.significantly affects its performance. By this assertion, therefore, the presence of internal control system in the bank provides reasonable assurance regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations.
Keywords: Internal control system, bank, performance.
Financial institutions especially the banking industry are unarguably an integral part and a life wire to every economy. This is because of the pivotal role they play in fostering the economy of every nation. Whether it is a central, investment, or commercial bank, it plays a key role in the life of a nation. According to Gwatney, Stroup, Sobel, and MacPherson (2006), some of the roles commercial banks play in an economy include: They provide a means for people to save money and other valuables, they increase the availability of capital by allowing businesses to use debt to expand, they create money through the fractional reserve system and granting of loans, commercial banks also reduce costs of carrying out transactions like money transfer/receipt services with the use of modern technology.
Globalization and advancement in technology have become the epicenter for businesses today with the banking industry not left out in the drive. In recent times, banks have expanded their operations beyond national borders to become big multinational financial institutions. Thanks to electronic banking (e-banking), operating and efficiency cost has considerably reduced. The geometric advancement in technology and globalization has come with its own challenges. Globalization for instance has increased the complexity in which businesses operate. This has exposed not only banks but also other organizations to malpractices and irregularities. Advancements in technology on its part have had their own share of challenges as the risk of fraud, money laundry, cyber criminality, and other irregularities are on the rise.
In a bit to ensure some degree of integrity, transparency, and proper conduct of business for the growth and attainment of the objectives of organizations, the management of organizations put in place a system of internal controls to regulate the way operations are carried out and to avoid excesses.
Given the geometric expansion in the size and complexity of companies, proper management of modern businesses is not possible unless they have an effective and efficient system of internal control. A good internal control system is one that is efficient and effective and can be relied on by management, auditors, investors, shareholders, public authorities, and other stakeholders.
The effectiveness and efficiency of an internal control system are determined by the extent to which it can provide reasonable assurance that recorded transactions are valid, transactions are properly authorized, existing transactions are recorded, transactions are properly classified, transactions are recorded at the proper time and transactions are properly recorded in the master files and correctly summarised.
The credit crunch that the world has suffered in the past decades and still running though there have been some magnificent improvements is a clear indication of the failure of the internal control structures of many big financial institutions to check excesses in the organizations. In their rush to satisfy their profit-making ambitions and outsmart competitors, they turn to pay little attention to their internal control procedures. This leaves the institutions vulnerable to misconduct by the staff.
A system of effective internal controls is a critical component of bank management and a foundation for the safe and sound operation of banking organizations. A system of strong internal controls can help to ensure that the goals and objectives of a banking organization will be met, that the bank will achieve long-term profitability targets, and maintain reliable financial and managerial reporting. Such a system can also help to ensure that the bank will comply with laws and regulations as well as policies, plans, internal rules, and procedures, and decrease the risk of unexpected losses or damage to the bank’s reputation.
The internal control structure of any organization may affect its performance in terms of financial management, risk management, fraud detection and prevention, growth and profitability, and customer satisfaction. The system of controls of every organization must be one that limits avenues for errors, fraud, and other misconduct.
The ineffectiveness of numerous organizational control frameworks has been highlighted because of the huge financial scandals in recent years. Hence, the increased attention on risk management, internal controls, internal audit, and their roles in cutting-edge institutions. Control policies formulated in financial institutions aim to make certain that it gives credit only to customers who satisfy the laid down conditions including payment on time. This is a fundamental element of control that keeps banks from becoming illiquid because of improper and un-facilitated lending. Despite these financial control policies, some financial institutions fail within the first five years of operations.
Financial institutions are faced with various challenges in their core operations. This hinders the effectiveness of their performance and impedes their profit levels. These issues can be related to poor portfolio management, lack of attention to changes in the economy that can lead to deterioration in the credit ratings of the institution. However, the major causes of serious banking challenges continue to be an ineffective internal control system. These policies determine the reliability and integrity of data for operational efficiency to achieve strategic goals and objectives. They are established to ensure management has accurate, timely, and complete information for effective decision making.
Nevertheless, the internal control system of any organization provides reasonable but not absolute assurance as to the correctness and completeness of records. This is because those responsible for implementing internal control procedures are vulnerable to human error, management oversight, and deliberate acts of misconduct. Therefore, the records provided by the internal control system cannot completely be relied upon by auditors, management, investors, shareholders, and other stakeholders.
Over the past decades, there have been many corporate scandals. Some of these scandals include the Satyam Computers scandal, the KOSS Company scandal, the Enron scandal, WorldCom Scandal, PARMALAT Scandal. In the local scene, a series of companies have gone bankrupt because of fraud and embezzlement which can be linked to the failure of the internal control procedures of the companies concerned. Some of these institutions include The National Corporate Fund (NCF), Global Business Financial (GBF), CompagnieFinancière de L’estuaire du Cameroun (CO-FINEST), and a host of others.
In recent times, all organizations, be they profit-oriented or not for profit entities, work under some laid down principles to better manage their resources. The existence of scarcity has to push corporate bodies to operate within conditions of resource constraints. As a result, various steps are taken and procedures established to ensure that the use of these resources is maximized in achieving organizational goals. One such measure involves an adequate control system. The financial sector considered a very sensitive sector and the life wire for every economy deserves proper attention. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to assess the impact of the internal control system on the performance of financial institutions. The following research questions were relevant to this study:
1.3 Research Questions
- Does the Internal Control System of Banque Atlantique Cameroun S.A significantly affect its performance?
- Is the Internal Control System of Banque Atlantique Cameroun S.A. the same as international standard
This study will specifically attempt to achieve the following objectives
- To ascertain if the internal control system of Banque Atlantique Cameroun S.A significantly affects its performance.
- To identify weaknesses in the ICS of the institution and recommend appropriate policy measures that can be executed to improve on the effectiveness and efficiency of its internal control system.