Hi, I’m Luke and I’m a Junior Auditor here at Salitix.
My job is to perform the reconciliations of our clients commercial trading activity with their customers, the big Grocery Retailers. It’s been a great experience for me to learn and see how the Grocery marketplace actually works and why I get such amazing products and deals in my local shop. From my vantage point, I get to see how different retailers trade and execute their trading plans with our clients, which has allowed me to quickly see and understand a variety of strategies that are used to deliver their trading objectives.
One thing that stands out to me is the need for good fundamentals, regardless of the basis of my claims. If we don’t have authentic and well-established ways of working behind the scenes, i.e., which oversee the retrospective audit, we can’t get the claims agreed!
I have spent a lot of time working on JS (Sainsburys) audits and with their trading teams to validate claims I have identified. JS is unique among retailers in that all audit discussions on promotional and fixed spend are with the Buyer as opposed to another auditor like me. This is because all the GSCOP regulated retailers signed up to the GCA’s Best Practice Statement on Forensic Auditing which sets out an audit process that is separate from the commercial dialogue, to mitigate the potential for evidence-based reconciliation being undermined by current commercial considerations. Large Retailers review and submit retrospective claims to their suppliers, so it’s a standard practice to make sure those reconciliations are fully accurate.
So far, my experience has been mixed. Buyers tend to be extremely busy focusing on their trading priorities, so getting anything done takes a lot longer than the 60 days that has been agreed with their compliance team. Then I find that in many instances, there is a reluctance to either properly validate the claim using the evidence provided or find new evidence that supports a different position. It can be frustrating, albeit, I have been able to get valid claims agreed and paid, eventually.
From my vantage point, my observation would be that it’s important to hold retailers to the standards and ways of working that they say they will adhere to. I have certainly seen examples of claims being made by all the different retailers which appear valid when viewed alone, but when placed into the complete sales reconciliation I conduct, would in fact, not be payable! So, it definitely pays to be able to conduct your own reconciliation without fear or favour!
I’m a new face in this amazing industry and really enjoy helping our customers to control weaknesses and identify monies they have paid in error and are due back to them. I like that I’m helping to support a fair-trading environment, which in turn contributes to the continuation of those amazing deals and products right on my doorstep!