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1/14/16 2:54 PM

8 Ways to Earn Kudos as an Unclaimed Property Professional

by Greg VerMulm

how-to-be-an-unclaimed-property-hero.pngUnclaimed property is administered and managed by real people who want to be recognized for the excellent work they do. Unclaimed property, though, by nature does not put achievers into the limelight.

If things go well, no one notices you. When things go badly, you get all kinds of notice—the wrong kind! This article suggests eight ways you can draw attention to your good work and get the kudos you deserve. 

The problem with abandoned and unclaimed property


Responsibility for abandoned and unclaimed property management is often viewed as a burden — just one more thing to do. To make matters worse, unclaimed property tasks, such as annual reporting, are due at the end or beginning of the month when many other tasks are due. Add to this the fact that corporate leaders rarely understand the level of resources necessary to manage unclaimed property properly.

For all of these reasons, some unclaimed property managers grumble that they were “in the wrong place at the wrong time” when unclaimed property was handed to them to manage. On the surface, it seems as though unclaimed property does not offer a way to earn recognition.

However, if you look a little deeper into unclaimed property and gain a thorough understanding of procedures and regulations, you’ll find many opportunities to make an impact throughout your company and achieve kudos—even career advancement.

Review the tips below and compare with opportunities in your company to find ways you can achieve recognition for your hard work on abandoned and unclaimed property.

  1. Keep Clean Financial Books. A goal of any sound company, keeping finances organized, streamlined and easy to compile into reports also happens to be a critical tenet of successful unclaimed property management. Your work on this can garner recognition from financial-minded colleagues.
  2. Reconcile Unclaimed Property on your Books. Successful unclaimed property compliance and due diligence efforts often lead to locating the rightful owner and returning the funds to them, allowing the company to close out stale-dated records and remove the liability from their books.
  3. Maintain Positive Relationships through Customer Service. Thorough management of due diligence leads to the efficient return of money owed to your customers and vendors. In fact, the simple act of attempting to reunite unclaimed property with owners demonstrates your company is a good business partner. In return, your customers and vendors will want to continue doing business with you.
  4. Reduce the Likelihood of an Audit. Keeping your company compliant by properly reporting unclaimed property to states and other jurisdictions may reduce the likelihood of a costly and time-consuming audit.
  5. Improve Cash Flow through Exemptions. By thoroughly analyzing your company’s unclaimed property, you are likely to find properties statutorily exempt from reporting, which reduces cash outflows.
  6. Claim Funds On Behalf of Your Company. Other companies are looking for missing owners just as you are. Search regularly for properties the states might be holding that are owed to your organization, and add them to your company’s income. For some companies, this becomes a profit center!
  7. Become the Go-To Unclaimed Property Expert. Most recognition will initially come from your managers and supervisors. However, if an unclaimed property audit notice lands on your CFO’s or controller’s desk, he or she will likely turn to you for your expertise. Being one of the few people in your company who has a clear understanding of unclaimed property compliance will likely position you for regular recognition and even promotion, if you perform well.
  8. Establish Relationships with Unclaimed Property Experts Because unclaimed property is so complex and the potential damage can be so substantial, it is critical to forge relationships with industry experts, just as you rely on expert attorneys for legal issues. Bringing valuable, cost-effective services to your company, such as annual compliance, capital recovery, and due diligence outreach, further establishes you as the one person in your organization who can deliver on unclaimed property.

The other side of the coin: unclaimed property failure

Unclaimed property becomes a serious issue the moment an auditor imposes a substantial assessment against your company. If you are responsible for unclaimed property and you don’t take it seriously, your ineffective management can create a backlash against you.

Fortunately, all you have to do to avoid that disaster and gain kudos instead is keep data clean, keep reporting activities organized, and stay focused on the responsibilities and benefits unclaimed property presents.

Topics: Risk, Audit, Best Practices