Barlow Associates, Inc. recently published a FastFact stating that of companies with business internet banking, a full 13% of them give access to their online banking portal to their accountants. I have to assume that most of those providing access are on the smaller size because the larger businesses have less need to provide such access. I surmise the reasons to offer access to an accountant are because they are relied on heavily to offer expertise on the finance side. I caution any business owner who takes a hands-off approach to at the very least, log in on a regular basis just to spot check your activity. The two main reasons I can think of as to why access would be provided would be 1) to have information readily available to reconcile the bank statement; and 2) to initiate Direct Deposit through your bank’s online banking portal. If you must do this, then make sure you know exactly what you have allowed. You can easily restrict what you give access to. If your accountant simply needs to see your cleared and outstanding items, then the best course would be to give him “View Only” access. View Only is just that – he can only view the activity in your account. He cannot initiate any payments or transfer funds from one account to another. If, however you give access so he can process your Direct Deposit payments, then that is a little trickier. The best course in this situation would be to allow him to “Initiate Only” vs. “Initiate and Approve.” Try making it a requirement for you to have to sign in to approve the payroll payments after he has initiated/created the transactions. As a last resort, if that is not possible, then make sure you have set up appropriate limits at your bank. The bank predetermines how large your payroll files should be with input from you. Make sure this threshold is not too large. You want the bank to become suspicious if they receive a payroll file for $50,000 when you typically process payroll files for $15,000. If nothing else, make sure you are reviewing your bank statement each month, without fail. It would not surprise me to find a client who gives their accountant access to their online banking and has their bank statements sent to the accountant for reconciliation. Bad idea.