This section is from the "Practical Banking" book, by Albert S. Bolles.
A "Monthly Proof" is also made, which involves the total transactions for the month, and the aggregate balance of each ledger, being a summary trial balance; and there are intermediate " Saturday Proofs," which are not obligatory, but made by the bookkeepers for their own convenience.
We have described one of the most advanced methods for keeping accurate accounts with depositors, and one by which it would seem almost impossible that any error should escape detection. It involves two principles which seem to us vital in insuring accuracy. First, that where there is a great volume of work to be gone over, it should be cut up into such small portions, each separately proved, that the area of search for errors is narrowed. Second, that the process of verification should be totally different from the process verified. A familiar illustration of the latter principle is in the process of addition, where, having added upwards, we then add downwards, lest the same error occur in the same combination of figures. We will now describe one of the primitive methods which are still in use in some institutions and which violate these principles.
The ledger contains columns for drafts only and deposits, none for the balance. The posting is done, not from tickets but from the tellers deposit and draft-books. The verification is merely a going over the items in the same order, affixing a check-mark if the original book and the ledger agree. There is no division of the transactions and balances of different ledgers or sections. The only thorough proof is in the semi-annual trial-balance, and it is an almost hopeless task to find an error in this, if there is a discrepancy, as usually happens. Experience has shown that this method neither prevents nor detects with certainty, errors in posting.
The interest, or dividend, is computed semi-annually, and its calculation devolves upon the bookkeepers, each for his own ledger. The calculations are gone through twice. The first operation is entered in a book called "Interest and Balance Book, Ledger ---------." This contains, on the left hand side, the numbers of all the open accounts in succession, followed by columns for the amount of interest at each half-yearly period, separated by other columns for the balance, which will hereafter be explained. The so-called "balance column" of the deposit ledgers, greatly facilitates the calculation of interest. Making the calculation mentally, figures are put down in the "Interest and Balance Book," opposite the principal, in pencil. When the ledger has been finished in this way, the "Interest and Balance Book" is laid aside entirely nd the calculations again made, the result being noted in pencil on the margin of the account. Thus there are two independent calculations of dividend, and jf, upon comparing these two, they are found to be identical, it is assumed that the calculation is correct. As this work is commenced before the end of the interest period, there are changes during its progress, caused by the withdrawal of money. These are corrected each day. After the first of January, or of July, the amounts penciled on the margin are written with red ink in the body of the account, and the resulting balance carried out, also in red. The "Interest and Balance Book" is added up by pages and aggregated by ledgers, so as finally to show the total amount of the dividend. It is the duty of the bookkeeper to enter in the depositor's pass book, whenever required by him, all dividends standing to his credit up to date. This is also done in red ink, and it is the invariable rule to foot up and balance his pass book at that time, compare its balance with that shown by the ledger account, and check off the latter, if correct. The book is also similarly balanced whenever the page is full; thus the daily and monthly reports of the bookkeepers verify and control the daily and monthly reports of the tellers, the cash department and the accounting department each reporting to the secretary, who balances one against the other.
In connection with the signature book the index cards are described and exemplified. These are kept in a chest of drawers which will contain about 10,000. They are arranged in alphabetical order, the index cards of each day being inserted in their appropriate places, and the cards representing closed accounts being each day extracted and filed in a separate series, so that the regular series contains only the open current accounts.
Many forms of index books have been and are used—simply alphabetical, alphabetical with vowel divisions, and alphabetized according to the first three letters. In none of these can the arrangement ever remain absolutely alphabetical, and there is always a considerable space to be gone over to find a certain name, and a great chance of missing it. In the card method a certain name can occupy but one place, as in a directory, and the dead accounts do not have to be gone over in order to find the open ones.
Little zinc cards indicate the divisions between letters, and between combinations of letters, so as to facilitate search.
We have now considered the principal functions of all the clerks of the bank, and have next to describe the duties of its executive officers. These are, in the bank under consideration, the president, treasurer and secretary. The treasurer and secretary perform, to a certain extent, coordinate duties. That is, they assist each other, and relieve each other when absent. We will describe first the duties of the treasurer.