Meet Mike McFillin – part auditor, part detective

Meet Mike McFillin – part auditor, part detective

Mike McFillin has been in the auditing game long enough to have learned this basic truth of the business – people don’t get audited because they want to.

But all practicing real estate agents who operate trust accounts are required by legislation to undergo periodic auditing.

The result? Many agents choose the cheapest audit on offer. The auditor fills out some forms, ticks a few boxes and declares the trust balanced. Case closed?

Not quite. McFillin says this kind of approach can end up costing real estate agencies tens of thousands of dollars down the track. It can lead to government investigations.

It can even miss the tell-tale signs of fraud.

After four decades in the industry, the Brisbane-based veteran has seen it all. And he’s learnt a thing or two about life along the way.

“You pay peanuts, you get monkeys,” McFillin says. “And have you ever asked a monkey for advice?”

Picture McFillin in a trenchcoat and fedora.

“It is a bit like being a detective,” McFillin laughs. “You’ve got to know what you’re looking at – sometimes people see it, but don’t know what they’re looking at.”

He means fraud and shonky accounting of course. Yes the numbers might balance. And, if your auditor is doing a cursory check, then that will be enough for them. But have the books been cooked? Well, that can easily be revealed, McFillin says. But it requires an auditor using a more practiced eye. It requires a bit of sleuthing.

Sometimes, it requires a reputation.

“A good auditor is a bit like a big stick,” McFillin says.

“An employee who is defrauding their boss knows they’re going to get found out when the auditor walks through the door – and that’s a valuable tool if you’re running an office and need to make sure people under you are doing the right thing.”

“It keeps employees honest, I’ve had three cases where people have resigned when the auditor came through the door… sure enough, a bit of digging revealed what they were up to.”

But after so many years in the auditing game, McFillin knows the overwhelming majority of real estate agents, their employees and clients are doing the right thing. And that’s where his experience comes in again.

He can help them do it better.

“People I deal with get the confidence that things are going right in their organisation,” he says.

“But, because I deal with so many agents, I also offer advice. I talk about changes happening in the industry, the most used-software by commercial real estate, trust account software…

“Good advice can save you money. If you don’t know about a particular system out for handling rentals, for example, you won’t know how much it can save you in terms of time and money.”

So while you may not want it, the fact is that if you’re an Australian real estate agent and you handle a trust account – you are going to need an audit.

Get an audit that gives you confidence in your accounts. Get an audit that will save you time and money in the long run.

Get McFillin Auditing Services.

Phone: 0434 778 423


NREA Administrator

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