Online Finance Info/Training

Discussions about the Leader and Clerk Resources on lds.org.
rickk
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Online Finance Info/Training

Postby rickk » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:28 pm

I tried to search several areas of the forum for this topic and didn't see anything, but please point me to the correct location if this is already covered...

In the past week, it appears that our stake has had a number of new functions of online finance enabled. As the Stake Finance Clerk, I know I will be getting questions from the wards and needing to do training, so I was wondering what resources are available that I can use to learn about the new capabilities of the system. Is there something online? The resources in the record keeping section of the clerk training don't seem to directly address using finance on LCR.

An initial question that came up as I was exploring is submitting expenses. I saw the recent letter about being able to pay people online, so I enabled my donation account to also be a reimbursement account. I then went the the expenses section to see how it would work, and as soon as I entered my name as the payee, I see a warning that the submitter should not be the fast offering recipient or payee. Is that an "error" which would be blocked if I actually had an expense to be reimbursed or is that just a guideline? I have always prepared the expense forms and checks for any reimbursements, including to myself or to family members, but I make sure that the check is always signed by 2 other leaders on the signature card. This seems to be the requirement on the audit, so has that changed? If not, then why would the online system be telling me that I shouldn't be submitting the expense? I would definitely expect to flag it if I tried to approve it as well, but submitting the expenses is part of my job as finance clerk.

Also - is the audit process different for units using online finance? I see that the stake president now can approve expenses online. If this is the case, then it doesn't make sense to be asking them to sign paper batch reports or individual expense request forms as well. Is there training available on processes and auditing that will help ensure that we are following the proper procedures for online finance?

For expenses that are entered online with uploaded receipts, do we also need to keep a paper printout of the records as well? Or is everything which is required to meet the audit record-keeping requirements stored online?

A whole bunch of questions like these are rolling around in my mind, so any help with online finance would be greatly appreciated. I know a number of stakes have already been using online finance as beta testers, so I am sure that my questions are not new.

Thanks,
Rick

jdlessley
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby jdlessley » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:13 pm

rickk wrote:In the past week, it appears that our stake has had a number of new functions of online finance enabled. As the Stake Finance Clerk, I know I will be getting questions from the wards and needing to do training, so I was wondering what resources are available that I can use to learn about the new capabilities of the system. Is there something online? The resources in the record keeping section of the clerk training don't seem to directly address using finance on LCR.

The latest added capability to make expense reimbursements by electronic funds transfer to a member's bank account was announced in the 15 March 2019: Ward and Stake Electronic Reimbursements notice you found in the Official Communications Library. The instructions for that are found in the Help Center page Record Expenses and Reimbursements. That help page was updated also on 15 March.

rickk wrote:I then went the the expenses section to see how it would work, and as soon as I entered my name as the payee, I see a warning that the submitter should not be the fast offering recipient or payee. Is that an "error" which would be blocked if I actually had an expense to be reimbursed or is that just a guideline?

The answer is found in the Help page Paying Expenses of Ward Members, list item 7.c., which states "When preparing a check for fast-offering assistance (or a payment approval form, where used), ensure that ... [n]either the payee nor the person being assisted signs the check or form." The popup you received made a correct statement regarding fast offering assistance since the online expense reimbursement could be a fast offering assistance payment. For other expense reimbursements the Help page Record Expenses and Reimbursements states "It is not recommended that a leader be an approver for his own reimbursement or expense, but it is allowed for unusual situations. This application of the law of witnesses protects the leaders and the Church." The help page does not mention that you would not have been able to complete the expense reimbursement but it implies you could.

rickk wrote:I have always prepared the expense forms and checks for any reimbursements, including to myself or to family members, but I make sure that the check is always signed by 2 other leaders on the signature card. This seems to be the requirement on the audit, so has that changed?

No it hasn't. But the system uses the two approvers as the two leaders that would have been the ones signing the paper check. So I suspect if you processed the expense for yourself on LCR then there could be an audit exception because you would be one of the approvers. Having been an auditor I would ask whether the circumstance was an "unusual situation". We won't know for sure until the area auditors are trained and then the area auditors train the stake audit committee members and auditors. I would play it safe and have another authorized leader process any expense reimbursements for you so that the question does not come up.

[Edit: If you are going to use a paper check and have two other authorized signers sign the check then there would not be a problem with you processing the expense. The situation I addressed above was for an EFT payment.]

rickk wrote:I see that the stake president now can approve expenses online. If this is the case, then it doesn't make sense to be asking them to sign paper batch reports or individual expense request forms as well.

I just did an expense reimbursement on Saturday using LCR. The bishop was the second leader approving the expense. Because he was the second approver he did not have to complete the bishop approval. When the check was printed today, Sunday, the expense summary was printed and it showed the bishop had approved the expense. Therefore no signature is required because his signing in to LCR and being an approver or completing the approval on the bishop approval tab meets the signature requirement. Using LCR does not yet make the entire reimbursement process paperless as far as I can tell. I guess I could have saved the expense summary and all other documentation electronically on a thumb drive and that would have sufficed for the traditional requirement to have the documents available for audit inspection. We will not know until the church audit department weighs in and makes their assessment known.

rickk wrote:For expenses that are entered online with uploaded receipts, do we also need to keep a paper printout of the records as well? Or is everything which is required to meet the audit record-keeping requirements stored online?

There is still the requirement for the member incurring the expenses to submit a reimbursement request. Until that process is flushed out our ward will continue to use the paper form and annotate the form that the receipts are available electronically (if that is how they are submitted). In our last audit the auditor could view the checks electronically. I suspect he will also be able to view any electronically submitted receipts in the next audit.

The only remaining paper documentation I see is the reimbursement request. The expense summary may be printed but I don't think it will be necessary. The receipts can be electronic and the actual payment could be EFT. All the electronic documentation, except for the reimbursement request, is available through LCR and therefore available to the auditor through LUFAS. So what is left?
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the ChurchofJesusChrist.org Help Center?

eblood66
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby eblood66 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:23 pm

rickk wrote:I then went the the expenses section to see how it would work, and as soon as I entered my name as the payee, I see a warning that the submitter should not be the fast offering recipient or payee. Is that an "error" which would be blocked if I actually had an expense to be reimbursed or is that just a guideline?

I found out from experience a few months ago that although it gives that warning it doesn't prevent you from submitting the expense. When I submitted the expense (payable to myself) I assumed that after I submitted it, it would then require two other approvers before the expense would be paid. Unfortunately, I found out that the submitter is automatically the first approver and that applies even if he is also the payee. Once the bishop approved the expense it was paid without requiring any other approver. I didn't do that again.

rickk wrote:I have always prepared the expense forms and checks for any reimbursements, including to myself or to family members, but I make sure that the check is always signed by 2 other leaders on the signature card. This seems to be the requirement on the audit, so has that changed?

That requirement hasn't changed and the message supports that fact.

rickk wrote:If not, then why would the online system be telling me that I shouldn't be submitting the expense? I would definitely expect to flag it if I tried to approve it as well, but submitting the expenses is part of my job as finance clerk.

As I indicated above the submitter is an approver which is the reason for the message. But I have no idea why it allows the expense to be submitted in that case since it violates policy. I agree with you completely and I submitted feedback that in this case it should require two other approvers and still allow the finance clerk to submit a reimbursement request for himself. But as it works currently, the finance clerk needs to be reimbursed by check, have someone else submit the request or just avoid needing reimbursements (i.e. have others do the purchasing).

rickk wrote:Also - is the audit process different for units using online finance? I see that the stake president now can approve expenses online. If this is the case, then it doesn't make sense to be asking them to sign paper batch reports or individual expense request forms as well.

As of the last audit period the audit process does not take the electronic approvals by the bishop or stake president as valid approvals. Or at very last that information was not available in the audit site. The auditor would have to have the clerk sign in and show the approvals. But the text of the audit question didn't mention this option. So until I see a further change in the audit procedures, I'm keeping a paper signature (or scanned signature) for all expenses.

rickk wrote:Is there training available on processes and auditing that will help ensure that we are following the proper procedures for online finance?

There have been updates in the Help Center.

rickk wrote:For expenses that are entered online with uploaded receipts, do we also need to keep a paper printout of the records as well? Or is everything which is required to meet the audit record-keeping requirements stored online?

If electronic receipts are added to the expense then those receipts are available to the auditor in the audit tool. But in the last audit they were displayed at a reduced size and my auditor and I couldn't find a way to zoom in. So we had a couple receipts that were hard to read. Having the paper receipt avoided any issue. So, personally, I'm keeping paper receipts until I know the audit process works smoothly without them.

rickk
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby rickk » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:12 pm

Thanks. Both of those replies were helpful. In our case, the EBT is not the new thing - the ability to do anything other than look at reports is new to our stake. We have still been on MLS and doing everything with paper requests and approvals.

I wondered if the submitter was automatically an approver (and I agree that shouldn’t be the case) but if they are, then the message makes sense. Hopefully they will update the system to ask for a second approver if the submitter is the payee.

I will take a look at the help center as you suggest.

It sounds like the auditing is behind the curve on these changes, and that isn’t too surprising. I will have our clerks continue to maintain the paper trail until we get better instructions.

Thanks again,
Rick

rickk
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby rickk » Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:31 am

Another question/observation... I have been using the online system to write checks and the payee search function is PAINFULLY slow. I am a stake clerk, so probably have many more records for it to deal with, but it really could use some work. When I click on the payee line, it normally take 5+ seconds for the spinner to go away and the initial list to populate. I then type the first letter of the person I am searching for and it can take another 5-10 seconds for the filter to take effect. Often the focus is also removed from that line so I have to click again and then type the second letter. This is a bit faster, but still slow. After that, the filter seems to get better since the remaining list of names is getting smaller. However, having to mess around for 20-30 seconds in order to get the payee selected is frustrating when it was pretty much instant on MLS.

Is this expected behavior for a stake that has 3500 members (plus non-member payees)? I was helping a ward clerk with using the system this morning and he didn't have nearly the delay on the filter that I do. I suspect it has to do with the increasing number of names to filter, but the way it is right now seems "broken" at the stake level...

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wrigjef
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby wrigjef » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:11 am

Can a member submit an expense request online? If so how? I don't see that option (from the members prospective)

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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby russellhltn » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:59 am

wrigjef wrote:Can a member submit an expense request online?

Not though the church system. They'd have to send an email.
Have you searched the Help Center? Try doing a Google search and adding "site:churchofjesuschrist.org/help" to the search criteria.

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drepouille
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby drepouille » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:53 am

Well, this is inconvenient. I am trying to create an expense for a ward activity, but I can't remember how much was budgeted for ward activities. That MLS feature has not yet been migrated to LCR. Guess I will just charge it to the ward activities budget and hope that category doesn't go negative.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

davesudweeks
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Re: Online Finance Info/Training

Postby davesudweeks » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:11 pm

drepouille wrote:Well, this is inconvenient. I am trying to create an expense for a ward activity, but I can't remember how much was budgeted for ward activities. That MLS feature has not yet been migrated to LCR. Guess I will just charge it to the ward activities budget and hope that category doesn't go negative.

The individual organization categories are simply part of the overall ward budget and are only shown in MLS. As long as the overall ward budget doesn't go negative, it won't have any effect at the stake or church level and you can move money around any way the bishop approves. We keep an amount set aside in a "contingency" account to cover variations in the budget amounts that come in quarterly and overages that an organization may experience. When an organization budget goes negative, I discuss with the bishop and then adjust their budget to cover it.


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