Controlled accounting processes
The Haniel Group applies an internal control and risk management system to its accounting processes. The purpose is to ensure that its financial reporting is reliable and that the risk of misstatements in the external and internal Group Reports is minimised. Misstatements are most likely to originate from complex transactions or consolidation procedures, mass transactions, the materiality of individual items of the financial statements, the use of discretion and estimates, unauthorised access to IT systems, and inadequately trained employees. Checks are performed regularly to determine the extent to which these factors can jeopardise the integrity of the consolidated financial statements.
In order to counter potential risks, the Haniel Group installed an internal control system that seeks to ensure the reliability and propriety of the financial reporting processes, compliance with the relevant statutory and internal regulations, and the efficiency and effectiveness of procedures. However, even an appropriate and functional internal control system cannot guarantee that all risks will be identified and avoided. The Haniel Group’s internal control system is based on the COSO publication “Internal Control-Integrated Framework”. COSO is the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
The existing risk and control structure is systematically recorded and documented. For this purpose, the most important risk fields are regularly updated and checked on the basis of clearly defined qualitative and quantitative materiality criteria. In the event of changed or newly emerged accounting-related risks or identified control weaknesses, it is the divisions’ responsibility, in coordination with Corporate Accounting, to implement appropriate control measures at the earliest possible opportunity. The effectiveness of the defined controls is checked and documented at regular intervals by means of self-assessment on the part of the controlling officers or their supervisors. The results of these self-assessments are subject to regular validation by independent third parties. Responsibility for establishing and supervising the internal control system lies with the Management Board. In addition, the Audit Committee monitors the system’s effectiveness.
The Haniel Group is distinguished by its clear and decentralised management and corporate structure. The local accounting processes are managed by the divisions, each of which prepares its own subgroup financial statements. The management of the entities included in the subgroups controls and monitors the risks concerning the operational accounting processes. The Group companies are responsible for compliance with the guidelines and procedures that apply throughout the Group. They are also answerable for the proper and timely flow of their accounting processes. They are supported in that respect by Corporate Accounting.
Corporate Accounting prepares the consolidated financial statements and the Group report of the Management Board. The relevance of ongoing developments of the IFRS standards and other applicable statutory provisions and their impact on the consolidated financial statements and/ or the Group report of the Management Board is continuously assessed. The Management Board and Group companies are informed, as necessary, of any consequences on consolidated reporting. Financial reporting is governed by accounting guidelines applicable throughout the Group, a uniform Group chart of accounts, and a financial statements calendar applicable throughout the Group. The accounting guidelines are updated annually, considering relevant changes in the law. There are binding provisions and uniform instruments for complex issues, such as goodwill impairment testing and the measurement of deferred taxes. Outside experts are brought in if required, for example, to measure pension obligations or to prepare expert opinions on the purchase price allocation for acquisitions.
The Haniel Group’s formal analysis and reporting process seeks to ensure that the information contained in the published annual report is reliable and complete. Corporate Accounting performs analytical checks in order to identify potential errors in consolidated reporting. The checks are documented and reviewed according to the principle of dual control. A detailed timetable and fixed responsibilities apply for the preparation of accounts.
Standardised and centrally managed IT systems are used to prepare the consolidated financial statements. This applies to consolidation at all stages of the Haniel Group and to the process of preparing the notes to the financial statements. The closing process is supported by numerous validations. The IT systems used in the accounting department are protected against unauthorised access. Separations of functions and change management systems are installed.
As an important element of internal process monitoring that is independent of the relevant processes, the Internal Auditing departments are responsible for systematically auditing and independently assessing the internal control systems.
As part of the audit of the consolidated annual financial statements, external auditors report on their material audit findings and any weaknesses in the internal control system relating to the entities included in the financial statements.