"All of you know that we are not in a very liquid position, and our October 31 balance sheet shows it. We need to raise some outside capital in January and our December 31 financial statements (both balance sheet and income statement) must look reasonably good if we are going to make a favorable impression upon lenders or investors. I want every officer of this company to do everything possible during the next month to ensure that, at December 31, our financial statements look as strong as possible, especially our current position and earnings.
"I have invited our auditors to attend this meeting so they will understand the reason for some year-end transactions that might be a little unusual. It is essential that our financial statements carry the auditors' approval, or we'll never be able to get the financing we need. Now, what suggestions can you offer?"
The vice president of sales was first to offer suggestions: "I can talk some of our large customers into placing some orders in December that they wouldn't ordinarily place until the first part of next year. If we get those extra orders shipped, it will increase this year's earnings and also increase our current assets."
The vice-president in charge of production commented: "We can ship every order we have now and every order we get during December before the close of business December 31. We'll have to pay overtime in our shipping department, but we'll try not to have a single unshipped order on hand at year-end. Also, we could over-ship some orders, and the customers wouldn't make returns until January."
The controller spoke next: "If there are late December orders from customers that we can't actually ship, we can just label the merchandise as sold and bill the customers with December 31 sales invoices. Also, there are always some checks from customers dated December 31 that don't reach us until January-some as late as January 10. We can record all the customers' checks bearing dates of late December as part of our December 31 cash balance.
The treasurer offered the following suggestions: "I owe the company $50,000 on a call note I issued to buy some of our stock. I can borrow $50,000 from my mother-in-law about Christmas time and repay the note to the company. However, I'll have to borrow the money from the company again early in January, because my mother-in-law is buying an apartment building and will need the $50,000 back by January 15.
"Another thing we can do to improve our current ratio is to write checks on December 31 to pay most of our current liabilities. We might even wait to mail the checks for a few days or mail them to the wrong addresses. That will give time for the January cash receipts to cover the December 31 checks."
The vice-president of production made two final suggestions: "Some of our inventory, which we had tentatively identified as obsolete, does not represent an open-and shut case of being un-salable. We could defer any write down until next year. Another item is some machinery that we ordered for delivery in December. We could instruct the manufacturer not to ship the machines and not to bill until January."
After listening to these suggestions, the president, James Minor, spoke directly to Rand and Brink, the auditors. "You can see I'm doing my best to give you full information and cooperation. If any of these suggested actions would prevent you from giving a clean bill of health to our year-end statements, I want to know about it now so we can avoid doing anything that would keep you from issuing an unqualified audit report. I know you'll be doing a lot of preliminary work here before December 31, but I'd like for you not to bill us before January. Will you please give us your reactions to but I'd like for you not to bill us before January. Will you please give us your reactions to what has been said in this meeting?"
a. Put yourself in the role of Rand and Brink, CPAs and evaluate separately each suggestion made in the meeting. (Some of the suggestions made by company management are acceptable accounting techniques, some are not.)
b. Explain whether or not the discussion in the meeting would cause you to withdraw from the audit engagement. (What GAAS standards apply that affect your decision).