IIA Magazine Jun 2016 issue

A toxic culture is present when your work negatively affects your health – physically and emotionally. An example of such could be a change in management or management through fear and intimidation. The two options are to leave or to name the problem and discuss to make it better. Payroll should have continuous checks and balances. It is not good to report risks on an ad-hoc basis. Talent issues and development need to be addressed. There is a strong need to fight corruption. However, whistle-blowing hotlines might be underutilized, as employees fear retaliation after reporting. There are some companies which do not trust enterprise cloud deployments still.

The Fire Drill. Auditors can learn to deliver a focused message that results in management action. Effective planning of our work is the key. For instance, we can look at past audit findings. Next, one should compensate with competence, meaning backing up observation with data and experience. Sell with the passion of a champion. Findings should be sold to address a control weakness that is causing an unacceptable risk. One needs to communicate the big risks well. In the end, we need to deliver a focused message that can result in management action.

The Tech-Savvy Auditor. Effective use of audit technology can enable audit departments to provide valuable insights. Most IA staff are not familiar with IT or have weak IT backgrounds. This is not acceptable. Technology can lead to a more efficient audit and also might cut fraud losses. There is a need to improve the audit software. There should be a data analytics centre in-house. There is a need to review software usage.

Integrating Key Risks and Performance Indicators. IA can leverage its risk knowledge to improve operational performance and reduce risks exposures. IA can provide assurance on the achievement of objectives. IA can encourage the formalization of KPIs and KRIs. KRIs can serve as an early signal of increasing risk exposure. There needs to be a formal project charter. There needs to be a KPI framework with proper planning, reporting, monitoring etc. The key metrics need to be identified and a dashboard can help to present graphically the results. The KRI should be closely linked to the KPI.

Toxic Leaders, Toxic Culture. IA can identify unhealthy behaviors that may undermine the organization. Culture will affect an organization’s success. Therefore, identifying the toxic leader is important. Toxic leaders want power and control. These tend to be autocratic leaders. They could have a strong sense of entitlement and focus on themselves and not the organization. Exerting power through fear can undermine morale. They do not like to be challenged and seek to manipulate others. Closed-minded leaders think of ‘My way or the highway’. There is no need to confront the toxic leader. IA can refer the person to compliance or legal counsel. One can use behavioural psychology to analyse. For a more objective method, one can look at the reasons for turnover and examine turnover rates. One can also look at employee engagement survey results. One needs to use experience and facts as much as possible.

Analytics and the small audit department. No matter the size of an audit function, analytics can be implemented for big gains. How to go about using analytics? Some simple ones to consider are benchmarking, variance analysis, ROA, turnover etc. The analytics must have goals and performance measures. Selecting the right data source is the key and there is a need to verify the accuracy of the source. Brainstorming can help to identify key data. It is crucial to have a plan that will allow IA to continue to improve its analytics capability. It is important to attain small wins in analytics.

Business Risk. Keynote speakers for this year’s IIA International Conference identify emerging risks facing organizations. Cyber risks is at the top of the priority list for many. Ransomware is a big threat to hospitals nowadays. Other threats include politics, the economy and terrorism. Social media risks sometimes aren’t within an organization’s control. Auditors should use corporate culture to work in their favour. An organization must monitor the external environment closely. There should be a common understanding of what the risk appetite and risk cultures are. Audit needs to adjust fast and invest continually in education. IA now also needs to learn to be innovative.

An Anti-corruption Check-up. Capability maturity models can help organizations assess the effectiveness of the anti-corruption programs. This model was developed at Carnegie Mellon University. One can use the model to identify strengths and weaknesses. There are basically 4 levels of maturity. There are 7 components that form the basis of anti-corruption maturity model. There is a need to tally the scorecard too.

Craft Our Role. IA should create the role for themselves that is best for both the organization and their own personal development. IA needs to be ingenious, use creativity and resourcefulness when developing their role. Do not limit the scope to be too small. It is important to be familiar with the business in order to value add properly. The control environment needs to be evaluated properly. One can develop business acumen. It is crucial to ask the right questions. IA should network more with the other departments to build rapport and also to get a feel about the management style in the department. Learn to practise combined assurance. One can work with another dept for a joint review. This is the way to maximize external resources.

Fraud and related-party transactions. IA can identify red flags and reduce the risk and impact of related-party fraud. IA need to be able to recognize related-party fraud risks. Providing loans at below market rates is a red flag. Failing to disclose the related-party nature of the loan is a red flag. IA should try to identify related party transactions. Try to identify whether employees have link to companies that transact with the organization itself. It is also possible to compare cost variations among vendors to see how they differ from the average cost. The organization should not pay costs significantly above market prices.

Communicating Results. Sharing audit observations is one of the most important tasks auditors perform. Communicating properly can help enhance rapport. Make sure the observations are correct and are not challenged by management. Plan the timing of issue dissemination, which is as soon as possible. Try not to surprise management at the end of the audit. Write clearly. Exercise diplomacy.

‘One of the quickest ways to lose management’s respect is to make it clear that IA does not understand what is has been auditing. The answer is to take the time to learn the business, processes, and risk associated with the audited area.’

Care and Feeding of The Company’s Culture. How can IA help to ensure a healthy organizational culture? Auditing culture is certainly work examining. Healthy organizations should have guidance on norms and expectations and a healthy tone at the top. Transparency is important. Management should think long term and have a sound strategy. Ask yourself whether the root cause is behavioural or cultural in nature. The problem with culture is that it is not clear cut and might be hard to evaluate. Those who are toxic in nature might be held accountable and be responsible.

Internal-Audit

 

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World-class Internal Audit by Norman Marks

We were a world-class audit team. There is always a need to change and seek improvement. Solve departments solve their problems. Learn to be innovative in your work. This book features highlights of my career. Hopefully, the reader will be able to gain insights. Learn from your mistakes and learn from those I made too.

In the Beginning. I joined PwC straight out of college. I learnt to treat audit partners with respect. Gutter Brothers were an audit firm. Back then, I was just labelled as an ‘other’, which was even a lower rank than the receptionist. I was doing an apprenticeship by then. Respect must be earned through your actions.

I learned a valuable lesson from this. No matter how high you see yourself, how magnificent you look in the mirror of your vanity, others may see you as a pompous nitwit or worse. – Norman Marks

Another situation, many years later, reminded me never to think too highly of yourself. – Norman Marks

I am obdurate. Later on, I worked under a number of audit seniors and supervisors. One of my appraisal was rated as below average and that I was ‘obdurate’. My manager thought that I was inflexible. He believed that I was stern. Asking questions was a must. I asked to ask managers why must I do certain stuff. Do not follow the procedures last year blindly as last year’s work might not be done properly. Never simply follow a checklist without understanding what it is about. Simply use standard audit programs as a tool and a checklist. It is important to understand and appreciate the business. This is a powerful checklist. Keep asking ‘why’.

I believe very strongly that only when people have a solid understanding of why something needs to be done will they do it well. – Norman Marks

Too much quality. Sometimes, people in positions of authority do not have the right experience and ability. Learn to use analytics, trends and rations as an audit technique. Use performance indicators to detect unusual patterns in inventory level. Analytics is useful to save time during the audit. Once, the audit partner said my work-papers were great but I took too much to perform the work. Time taken to perform the work was a cost to the client. My work was apparently ‘too good’ and it didn’t have to be that that good. For internal auditors, the focus on documentation is not as great as for external auditors. IA’s work is not reviewed by examiners or regulators. Our audit opinion is for internal use. Internal auditors are rarely sued. If there are dispute in findings, it is important to have working papers as evidence. Interpreting the audit findings is also an issue. Working papers are crucial if there is a fraud investigation. You can review by talking to the audit team. If external auditors are going to rely on internal auditors’ work, documentation is important. Creating working papers should not be very ‘costly’ and the time wasted could be used for another audit. Apply ‘stop and go auditing’. This means extending the audit if risk was higher than expected but shorten an audit if the risk was lower than anticipated. Sometimes, cutting short an audit is useful. The CAE must balance the value and cost of developing working papers.

There is no way that audit documentation should take such an enormous percentage of total audit engagement time. If my internal auditors spent more than 10% of their time on working papers, I would need to know why. – Norman Marks

The value of criticism. I was good at flow-charting and completing ICQs. I received a lot of comments from the CAG specialist and requested for a meeting with him. All the review notes made sense. Luckily, he was patient and explained what I had done wrong and what should have been done. Later, I re-did the working papers and in future, I did not receive that many review notes. I realized that my flowcharting systems was lacking. I needed to have a better grasp of the fundamental principles. Technical skills are important too. I respected the CAG specialist and learnt a lot from him. Criticism can educate and change you. Later, I was hired by the CAG team as they were impressed with my knowledge.

The value of writing and teaching. I loved history. I was a gifted programmer and knew how to use the computer auditing sessions. To my superiors, I was an expert in the subject manner. For new technology, it is best to implement in stages. IT systems must be built on a solid foundation. The foundations and fundamentals don’t change. For example, you must understand internal controls, risk management, IS, cash management etc. Later on, I was interested in microprocessors. Tell people why the tasks they are doing are important. Avoid technical language and use ordinary English. In order to teach, you have to learn the fundamentals. Therefore, there is huge benefits for learning to teach. Use examples and diagrams when teaching.

The value of Curiosity and Research. I was the IT auditor for a large insurance firm. Keep asking and make sure that audit tests are not run on old data or old systems. From then now, I had a keen interest in ITGC. Sometimes you need to look deeper and not be fooled by the name of a system or report. Someone could have changed the name of the report but the data was not relevant. My common sense impressed him.

The executive attention span. I drafted ICQs to those programmers who had power to change many elements of the IT environment. There was once when I had to explain my work to a senior partner but I realised that he was not paying attention. I realized that once I had hesitated, the senior partner stopped listening to me. Senior management wants you to explain your point succinctly and quickly. They don’t like to hear things that they don’t want to hear. He wanted to size me up. Senior management only wants to know whether there are any issues in the audit. You should conclude what the effectiveness of controls meant for the organization as a whole.

You are how others see you. I was about to receive my annual evaluation from David. However, apparently, I had offended a senior colleague of David. I appeared arrogant in front of that colleague. When I approached my other colleagues, I realized that that was what they were saying about me too. Charisma is important in audit. When climbing the corporate ladder, you need to learn to be a charismatic leader.

Showing that you are the best at what you do may win you a job, but will rarely win friends or influence people. If we are to be successful, we need to surround ourselves with people who are interested in our success as well as their own. Arrogance turns them away. – Normal Marks

The search for charisma. I learnt charisma from leaders during my short stint in the US office. A large part of it is smiling. You need to behave in a way where people find it appealing. Demonstrate that you place value in your staff and you can trust them. Everyone is valuable and interesting in their own way. I have been enlightened by conversations. You should talk to everyone if you want to find out more about the organization’s problems. Listen to people on the ground. Show respect to others and listen well.

I have learned that people love those who will listen to them. You can be charismatic by listening actively, showing respect and attention to another’s views. – Norman Marks

The Root Cause. You cannot report the symptom. You need to dig to the root cause of the problem. Keep saying ‘why’. This is the 5 ‘why’ method.

If the auditor reports a problem that is only a symptom, management is unlikely to take the actions necessary to fix the problem permanently. Only when the root cause is treated, rather than the symptom, is the deficiency addressed. – Norman Marks

Do we speak the same language? The English spoken in America and England have slight differences. For instance, to the British, ‘ta’ means ‘thank you’ to the British people. Make the effort to speak clearly so that others can understand you. Do not assume that everybody understands each other. Take responsibility for what you say.

WIIFM. Sometimes, if you want to climb the corporate ladder, connections matter. Is this behaviour consistent with your values and principles? It was against my principles to steal others’ credit. People usually only care about themselves. They think in this perspective ‘What’s In It For Me?’ You need to understand how people act. Over time, playing office politics will create enemies.

Where do I go from here? I decided the life of a partner was not for me. The opportunities and salary are more important than the title awarded to you. You must look forward to the next role before jumping in.

Only take a job when you see yourself excited and running towards it. Don’t take a job just to escape your current position. – Norman Marks

Wearing a White Hat. People make mistakes and controls are important.

Awkward Days. If you can’t trust people, you can’t expect them to be loyal. If you have a bad boss, you will see that people will start leaving.

When you can’t trust your own people, especially when there is no good reason for mistrust, they will neither trust you nor owe you loyalty. – Norman Marks

Some measure their value and effectiveness by the number and significance of their audit findings. I measure my value and effectiveness in terms of how management trusts and looks to me to help them be successful. – Norman Marks

A great but unlikely compliment. I wanted to move into line management before wanting to consider whether to be an IA head. The CAE should report administratively to senior management and administratively to the Audit Committee. Compensation for the CAE should be set by the Audit Committee. Internal auditors should be experts in internal controls and processes. Workload assignment is important.

When to suggest an answer. It is good for auditors to have some line experience. First, one needs to assess the design of the controls. Learn to create a control matrix. The control matrix can help you make an assessment and prevent excessive audit. Be wary of backlog requests. Do not be quick to suggest answers before understanding the problem. Do not suggest a solution if you know just the symptom.

Learning about Limits. Common sense, together with logic, can help one accomplish a lot in life. Sometimes, it is better not to set limits for yourself. If you enforce the HR policies too strictly, some people might not like it. This might make you more enemies.

Empathy. Walk in someone else’s shoes before you criticize them. Understand what others are going through and the challenges they face. Walk around and ask others how they are doing and show some concern. When they know you care for them, they tend to be more loyal towards you. Sometimes, you need the humanistic and caring approach of management.

Empathy, understanding what it was like to walk in the auditees’ shoes, would help me craft a report with recommendations that were practical, business-oriented, and achievable. Having empathy would help me influence and effect the change I desired and felt was necessary for the business. – Norman Marks

The Customer. It is important to follow-up with the customer and update them if the query is still in progress. The person who made initial customer contact should take ownership of the case.

The lesson was that hiring motivated and experienced people may cost a little more per person, but they need little supervision or management, are far more productive, and in general create products that are practical, relevant, and useful to the business. – Norman Marks

The Best Job I ever had. The best way to know a job is through a network. Tosco did well due to strategic management decisions. I was given room to grow as the head of Internal Audit. IA should be able to effect change and adapt to changing business conditions. The staff need to be talented and also be able to communicate well.

Hiring the Best. I started off as the CAE with no staff under me. Eventually, I hired 3 experienced people. In IA, both hard and soft skills are necessary. In addition, being intelligent and having a curious mindset is necessary. Auditors need to think for themselves. During the interview, ask what the candidate reads. Ask the candidate audit-related questions and dig out more information on him. Think about a situation where you have never encountered before. A way to approach auditing is to evaluate the risks and to better manage them. Sometimes, if the risk are at an acceptable level to management, then no further testing is required. Having experienced staff is important.

Too many auditors are trained not to think. They are told to follow an audit program or checklist that somebody else created. – Norman Marks

Humility and Respect. I was the director of IA at Tosco. Even if you are very senior, always act with humility and respect. Trust your employees to work diligently. I was proud of the management team, who placed people ahead of profits. Listen from people who can offer different perspectives. People like to feel empowered and respected. IA was seen as a path to business. Create a fun environment so that people will stay.

The risk-based IA plan. Learn to build up your audit universe. Always practise risk-based auditing. Sometimes, a full-scope audit can use up too much of your resources. Later, I understood the concept of ‘opportunity cost’. Your audit plan can have relative ranking of risk factors. I included risks within each business unit and compared them across the enterprise. Focus on the more significant risks to the organization. There are endless possibilities of audit. I was able to substantially cut down the audit time required. The more audits you do, the more risks you are able to assess. One average, one audit member could complete up to 12 audits per year. Learn to perform an ERM first, before developing your audit universe. In the past, nobody talked about ERM. The whole point is to discuss on the wide-range of activities for the organization.

My first frauds. Over the years, I have performed many investigations. Sometimes, companies want to protect the fraudster because he is still a valuable member of the organization. Do not commit ‘white lies’ as they may have serious repercussions moving forward. Limit the people in the ‘know’. Do not jeopardise people’s career if they are under investigation. Sometimes, they might actually be innocent. Anyone is capable of committing fraud, even your close friend. It is important to keep investigations confidential, so as not to affect others’ reputations. Never assume guilt unless you have sufficient evidence.

Not all auditors hate risk. Management can decide how much risk to take, but auditors can challenge this. IA should not try to eliminate every risk that they see. Do your audit customers smile? It is not about eliminating risk, but about taking the right risk. There needs to be security over the batch jobs. It is essential to take a business perspective when it comes to auditing.

Internal auditors should understand that business is not about avoiding or limiting risk, it is about taking the right risk. I have learned that all internal auditors should consider themselves business people who have a job as internal auditors. Their work should be intended to contribute to organization success, not just point out deficiencies or “findings”. – Norman Marks

Loretta and Wow! Audit Projects. As IA, you can make the person’s job more interesting by making better use of their manuals and documents. Learn to reinvent your work. Make every project a ‘Wow!’ project. IA needs to talk to people to understand the risks that the organization faces, and what are the risks and opportunities. Spend time to talk to people on the ground. Timeliness is important. Long meetings are unproductive in nature and should be avoided. Auditors must talk in the language of business executives.

Why do I need to write an audit report? One needs to demonstrate empathy. You need to care about the success of the team. The report is a vehicle of communication. It benefits the management and the audit committee. Clear communications are easily understood. The report must be clear and concise. Management and the AC wants to know the following: 1) Is there anything they need to worry about?; 2) Are there any issues of such significance that somebody in senior management should be monitoring how and when they are addressed?. Manage on ‘exception’. After reading the first few paragraphs, you should be able to obtain the correct information. An opinion can be expressed on a written scale, 1) Satisfactory; 2) Needs Improvement; 3) Unsatisfactory. Management just want ‘high-level’ information. The goal is to effect improvement and not to keep reporting issues. Risks must be managed effectively. If management corrects the issue before the report is issued, I can drop the finding. Is it necessary to organize a closing meeting? I am looking out for information to make IA communications more accurate. If you know one audit report might affect other areas of the business, it is possible to share the findings with that area of the business.

Auditing Forward. IA must be independent and objective. Evaluate and improve the control and governance processes. Auditing forward means being involved in forward looking activities and ensure that controls are in place. Controls should be implemented before ‘production’ phase. This is more of a consulting project. IA’s success has to be inter-wined with success of project implementation. Going live without testing is potentially high-risk. Identify areas where the project is most likely to experience pitfalls. IA can value add if it can improve the company’s future. Telling about problems in the past can help, but only to a limited extent. Be agile and learn to change the IA plan swiftly. Know that business environments can change. Obtain monthly operating reports and key metrics so that analytics can be performed. Business leaders like IA who can value-add.

Effecting Change. Some IA functions measure their success by the number of recommendations made and % of findings accepted by management. The number of audit findings should diminish over time. IA must target the root cause and actions needed to fix the problem. By right, all recommendations should be accepted by management. Measure quality through the change that is made. The number of significant findings should be decreasing over time. IA should enable organizations to take corrective actions. ‘Does internal audit help you identify the need for change and improvement in the business, and then to get those changes made?’

Leadership. People need to have confidence in you. You cannot fake who you are. Always be the best that you can be. Show respect and listen to others. Give credit to your team members. Ask questions that make people think hard. I have received good feedback from those around me. Try to mentor others and to help their careers whenever possible. People need to think for themselves. People from the Big 4 are trained not to think. This sort of thinking needs to be reversed. There is a difference between a boss and a leader. Leadership is about providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people. Leadership styles can be modified and tailored according to the situation. Trust and loyalty are really crucial. Be loyal and build strong teams. Understand what motivates your staff and where they want to go in their careers. Always be there for your employees. A leader is supposed to motivate employees so that they can perform to the best of their ability.

Working with difficult people. Sometimes, you will meet people who dislike you on a personal level. If you want to be successful, you need to learn how to work with difficult people. There is nothing much you can do but apologize sometimes. Sometimes, you may enter a workplace with a high degree of politics. At times, you might not be able to change a difficult situation. In that case, the best thing to do is to leave on a good note. You can take courses on how to deal with difficult people. Learn to listen to angry people talk. Eventually they will simmer down. Being heard is almost like being loved. Being alone can allow the person to calm down. Always try to be professional and polite. There is little to gain if you keep criticizing the other person. Difficult people are difficult for a reason. That is because they may have something to hide.

Working for a Difficult Region. It is ridiculous if you need management permission to perform the audit. IA should be given full access and co-operation. If bonuses are tied to number and severity of audit problems, people will clean up data and be extra vigilant when dealing with auditors. Sometimes, people do not see value in IA. Do not have the aim of disciplining others.

Organizational Culture. CAEs should be concerned with the organizational culture. Is there a culture of integrity? Is the culture appropriate for realizing and delivering value? The CAE must stand tall. Sometimes, when the CAE reports bad news, the CE might want the CAE to be fired. There might be a culture of manipulation of books and earnings management. There must be a strong tone from the top. Do not have the culture of ‘cooking the books’. If there is, it could be a good idea to leave.

The expansion of internal auditing. Pay attention to contracts audit. Sometimes, there can be loopholes that may be exploited. Investigations should only be performed by well-trained personnel. Determination of whether fraud is committed is a legal responsibility. Do not believe that guilt is present until all evidence is in. Audit must be performed to check compliance with licensing terms.

World Class Internal Auditing. This means being an IA function that few are aware of and not many people adopt. Do not simply follow best practice. Always audit forward. Embed your IA team in all major initiatives. An effective leader should support the team and provide adequate resources. There are disadvantages with inexperienced auditors. Focus on important risks and do not waste time on immaterial activities. Do not try to make someone else look bad. There are 14 attributes to a world-class IA. 1) Be praised by AC and top management. 2) A cool place to work (Build a bonding spirit). 3) The department people want to transfer to, but hate to leave. 4) Where people think (observe similar situations in other companies; be creative and resourceful; standardized audit programs may not be applicable for all; learn to challenge norms). 5) Where people are set free to choose an audit approach that stimulates and develops, as well as getting to the heart of the problem – tackling the root issues head on. Auditors must get to the root cause of the problems, which tend to be people. Sometimes, people make mistakes because they are overworked. 6) The source of projects that are noticed, that will be told to the team’s grandchildren (major business improvements). 7) The internal consultants of choice and a source of talent. 8) At the exit interview, the manager says ‘thank you’ sincerely (Listen to your customers. If they value you, you are in a much better position). 9) Fully leverage the organization’s risk management process (automation, base audit plan on risk-adjusted risk universe (ERM etc)). 10) Fully leverage advanced continuous monitoring and auditing capabilities – as part of a risk-based audit program (perform analytics, employ technology for advantage, crowdsource etc. 11) Where the CAE sends a message to the CEO asking to chat, and the CEO comes to the CAE’s office (Learn to listen well). 12) Expanding into new and cool stuff, even if not traditional audit areas, such as process improvement, six sigma, audit of risk management and governance (use the LEAN concept to reduce waste, inefficiencies etc). 13) Where internal auditing is seen by management as a competitive advantage (see the value add in IA). 14) Where the CAE is never satisfied (learn from other CAEs, think outside the box).

After all, our job is not to score points telling people how many mistakes they made. Our job is to help people understand whether things are OK, and, when they are not, work with them to effect the necessary changes. – Norman Marks

Celebrating mistakes. Do not live in fear of making mistakes. However, one should learn from their mistakes or it might become an issue in future. However, there are some weaknesses that one must accept. Make adjustments to your behaviour. Sometimes, what appears to be negligence may not be so. Stop before reacting. Learn from your mistakes in order to help you succeed.

Looking back and forward. Not many IA departments assess and provide assurance on effectiveness of risk management. Very few consider governance issues. It is simply not just a ‘check the box’ function. Too many ACs don’t understand the potential of IA. IA practices must continue to improve. Business environments are getting more complex.

Audit checklist on a desk, with tick against audit satisfactory

The Essential Guide to Internal Auditing by KH Spencer Pickett

Introduction. Auditors are expected to deliver. They have to present ‘big picture’ risks. They also need to identify risks with the departments. The audit report must add value to the organization. Visit the IIA website and keep up to date with the latest information. It is now a full-blown profession. An IA function can provide good governance. We now need to take into account internal audit standards, and the work of academics etc. This book makes reference to a lot of IIA standards. Please read the IIA standards. Chapter 2 – Corporate Governance; Chapter 3 – Managing Risk; Chapter 4 – Internal Controls; Chapter 5 – The Internal Audit role; Chapter 6 – Professionalism; Chapter 7 – The Audit Approach; Chapter 8 – Setting an Audit Strategy; Chapter 9 – Audit Fieldwork; Chapter 10 – Meeting the Challenge. This guide can improve an auditor’s professionalism. The internal audit function has evolved over the years. It has moved from accounting data in the past to ‘risk management, control and governance processes’. In the past, internal auditors’ job was to try to pick up fraud more quickly than the external auditors. In the past, the focus was more on low-level, detailed checking. Most ACs are required to have non-executive directors as well. Now, audits involves recognizing risks and then seeing how the controls can address the risk. Should the CAE report to the main board and not just the AC? ERM is also increasing in importance. These are exciting times as IA is also taking on a greater consulting role. However, the assurance aspect is still necessary.

Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes. – IIA definition

Corporate Governance Perspectives. An organization should strive for performance, but at the same time adhere to guidelines and regulations. The tone from the top and investor’s expectations do matter as well. Corporate scandals can undermine the trust in the society etc. That is why there are corporate governance codes that are put to practise. Understand the agency model of how the shareholders vote in the directors, the directors oversee the managers and the mangers run the operations. The directors set targets for management and the directors report results to shareholders at the end of the year. Shareholders have a right to dividends. Directors have to protect the business and account for their activities. In reality, directors may not be aware of their role. There are many stakeholders involved in a company. There is a lot more attention on shareholders and how they are treated nowadays. Giving shareholders more information may not work as they might not understand such information. Why do we need business ethics if everyone is honest? Research has shown that people are not fully aware of what an ethical culture entails. External auditors make sure that the accounts can be relied upon. For public sector, the focus on VFM is greater and the owners are the taxpayers. Ethical standards should be made clear to all. There are problems, for example: a CEO which is too powerful; board members which are not independent; incompetent boards; employees who abuse the system; no accountability framework; poor tone from the top etc. Shareholders do not like short-term growth. However, managers want instant results. There can be confusion over levels of authority, and the legislative framework etc. Corporate governance aims to combat inappropriate behaviour. The 5 key principles of governance are 1) Rights of shareholders must be protected; 2) There should be equitable treatment of shareholders; 3) Timely and adequate disclosure; 4) Disclosure and transparency; 5) Responsibility of the board. Countries should adopt international accounting standards. Independent directors should meet at least once a year. Independent directors should ask tough questions to the CEO. Management should optimize shareholder return. Transparency is important. ASX has developed an important set of corporate governance principles. The OECD has global principles of good corporate governance. There should be effective interaction between board, management, external auditor and the internal auditor. IA must report directly to the AC. The AC should select the external auditor and evaluate both external and internal auditor performance. Fraud Risk Assessment must be performed. The internal auditor is more concerned with internal control to determine whether organizational objectives can be met. Sometimes, the EA and IA audit methodologies can appear to be quite similar. IA’s role is to promote suitable organizational controls. The IA should make use of IIA standards in their work. Both EA and IA should communicate with one another. IA is interested in system weaknesses that lead to potential loopholes or fraud. Most of the time, IA staff are employees of the company. EA is usually a legal requirement. IA is mainly in charge of fraud investigations. IA can focus more on operational audits. IA may also cover operational efficiency and VFM initiatives. The IA function is also active the entire year. IA and EA should exchange their audit plans. The ideal situation is where IA and EA sit together and fully integrate their plans. Most ACs meet at least quarterly. The AC is very important in the role of corporate governance. The AC is mandatory for most international stock exchanges. The AC has many governance related responsibilities to fulfil. Where is the link to risk management and internal control? All foreseeable risks must be anticipated. A well governed organization should have good internal controls in place. The annual report should spell out clearly the responsibilities of every committee etc. The codes of corporate governance does change over time. KPIs should be integrated with KRIs.

Managing Risk. There are different types of risk management, including ERM and CSA. The audit should move towards the future, by perceiving risk. There is a move away from compliance. Risk can be controlled. Management needs to take a certain risk appetite. Risk is measured in terms of consequence and likelihood. Risk only has meaning when related to an objective. A mission statement is useful. Risk has both an upside and downside. Excessive controls should also be cut as it affects productivity. Risk management is a dynamic process. Flexibility is important. However, some risks will be unanticipated. The risk owner must be identified. There must be open communication with management on risk-related matters. All risk must be identified. There needs to be strategies to tackle high risk impact areas. The entire process must be reviewed periodically. With a good ERM structure, shareholder value should be enhanced. Risk owners should be the ones implementing controls. After controls, the residual risk can be measured. 1) Terminate – stop the activity; 2) controls – are we doing enough to reduce risk to an acceptable level?; 3) Transfer – this could be through taking an insurance policy; 4) Contingency – BCP in case high risk events occur (high impact, low likelihood); 5) Take more risk; 6) Communicate; 7) Tolerate (esp for low risk areas); 8) Commission research; 9) Tell someone; 10) Check compliance . A company should keep risk registers. The approach for residual risk is to 1) more risk; 2) accept risk; 3) implement more controls. Take note that controls are costly. The tone of the top must be set. However, risk management is sometimes conducted based on gut feel. The risk analysis must be compared with a set criteria (different areas). The organization should prepare a risk appetite statement and define the control environment etc. There needs to be both qualitative and quantitative statements (limits, thresholds, key risk indicators). Risk workshops are good. However, risk workshops could be seen as cumbersome and a waste of time. There must be a board member sponsoring the process. There should be a risk management committee. The board and the audit committee should work together on a risk assessment around corporate strategy. The CE can act as the board sponsor. It is important to get the people on the ground’s buy-in. It is important for the risk policy to be established (It should contain governance, policy scope, policy applicability, risk management process, risk appetite, reporting, roles & accountability, variations and dispensations). COSO defines ERM as ‘A process, effected by an entity’s board of directors, management and other personnel, applied in strategy setting and across the enterprise, designed to identify potential events that may affect the entity, and manage risk to be within the risk appetite, to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of entity objectives.’. Look out for cross-functional risks. CSAs could be used to get information. In addition, interviews could be made. The use of CRA workshops are one option as well. Use a properly prioritized risk register to focus on the bigger risk issues. Risk can be classified into ‘strategic, programme, project, financial and operational.’ IA needs to work with the RM team to have streamlined ERM. ERM has a big role to play in strategic planning. There have been some new developments in the ERM space. For banks, it is very important to have a CRO. Even smaller organizations are paying more attention to risk management. Risk management is a good way to improve corporate performance.

Internal Controls. IC is very important to an internal auditor. A good understanding of internal control is important. IC is important and has to put in place. Poor controls can lead to losses. There is no substitute for IC. The control environment is important. Management must determine whether there is a need for controls. Once this has been identified, suitable controls needs to be identified. Next, they need to be implemented. Controls must be applied effectively. They need to be maintained and updated too. Do understand that there are different types of controls. It is all about the people. Beware of burdensome controls. Controls must be reviewed adequately. Controls should be a way of managing risk in the organization. IC must be implemented in the working procedures. The COSO framework is a good guide. The control framework helps drives the control environment. ICs must be communicated and monitored. Purpose à Commitment à Capability à Learning & Monitoring. People must learn to challenge old assumptions. CoBiT is for IT. There is also the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. IC is closely linked to RM. Control mechanisms should be clearly defined. There are 4 types of controls: 1) directive; 2) preventive; 3) detective; 4) corrective. Some of the types of controls are: 1) authorization; 2) physical access restrictions; 3) supervision; 4) compliance checks; 5) procedural manuals; 6) recruitment and staff development policies; 7) SOD; 8) Sequential numbering of documents and controlled stationery; 9) Reconciliations; 10) Project and procurement management; 11) Financial system controls; 12) IT security; 13) Performance management. Warning signs: 1) Ability of senior management to override accepted control; 2) Lack of staff and vacant posts; 3) Poor control culture; 4) Staff collusion; 5) Reliance on a single KPI; 6) Reliance on memory; 7) Retrospective transaction recording; 8) Uncontrolled delegation of tasks. Understand the importance of soft controls. Control mechanisms must be designed appropriately. Use integrated controls. The fallacy of perfection. Control measures are costly. Management override of control is an issue which needs to be addressed. Ownership of control is very important. New developments are important to follow. SOX was being implemented.

If government organizations are to be effective, we must establish and maintain a system of internal control to protect government resources against fraud, waste, mismanagement or misappropriation. Employees often underestimate the importance of internal controls, or think internal controls amount to merely separating duties. However, internal controls encompass a comprehensive system that is critical to helping an organization achieve its goals and mission. – State of New York, Office of the State Comptroller

The IA role. Learn to define IA. An audit charter is needed. Internal auditing must be objective in nature. IA must attempt to add value to the organization. IA should also improve an organization’s operations. It must be systematic and disciplined. There is a need to continually improve the system. Risk management and control must be executed. The IA function should achieve 1) reliability and integrity of financial and operational information; 2) effectiveness and efficiency of operations; 3) safeguarding of assets; 4) compliance with laws, regulations and contracts. Much expertise is required from internal auditors. Sometimes, IA can provide an advisory role in relation to compliance and let the compliance do the rest of the job. MIS audits are also very important and have to be conducted. VFM is also related to audit work. The use of specialists may also be necessary. An audit charter needs to be written. The audit charter should cover areas recommended by the IIA Attribute Standard 1000. There are many possible types of audits that can be conducted by IA. IA must also appear to be independent when performing their work. IA must be impartial and provide unbiased views. The manager of the department cannot dictate what the auditor should do. Audit Ethics is important. IIA should refer to the ethics code. A code of ethics is necessary. Sometimes, the word ‘audit’ has a negative connotation. The auditor should have a good understanding of what the client is doing. Information must be extracted in an efficient manner. Dealing with people is important in the job. Planning for audits in the AC forum is important. IA should not just simply do work that management expects of them. Useful information should be listed on the IA website. What are some of the competencies required of internal auditors? Certifications help to showcase competency. Example: CIA. What makes good internal auditors? Auditors should be aware of 1) internal audit procedures/guidelines; 2) accounting principles; 3) indicators of fraud; 4) key IT risks; 5) management principles and materiality; 6) Appreciate and fundamentals of business subjects; 7) Soft and hard skills. Professional Development is important for the auditor. A certain number of CPE numbers is needed to retain membership to IIA. Workshops are useful for identifying training gaps. Appoint a training co-ordinator. This person should be able to carry out basic in-house training. The IA team should read journals etc. Work closely with SMM to ensure that risks are identified. Identify skill gaps etc.

The perception that operational management is very busy doing important work while the auditor is simply checking some of the basic accounting data that relates to the area can create a great imbalance. This sets the auditor at a disadvantage from day one of the audit. – KH Spencer Pickett

Professionalism. Internal auditors need to go through a detailed training programme. They must be knowledgeable. IA are professionals. IA is now a professional discipline and this is considered a huge achievement. IIA has issued its professional practice framework. You may read the attribute standards. An auditor needs to exhibit due professional care. All audits must be performed according to certain standards. Disclosure by IA must be made for consulting services etc. Quality assurance is important. IA needs to ensure that it complies with code of conduct and other relevant standards. Appropriate evidence of supervision is documented and retained. ‘The team leader, audit manager, and CAE each have a duty to ensure that they are available to direct staff as that audit is being conducted.’. Supervisors must review each workpaper and sign off. Questions or review notes must be addressed. Internal reviews or on-going monitoring is important. External reviews must be conducted once every 5 years. A pleasant audit image must be created. A feedback questionnaire needs to be conducted. A formal complaint procedure should be voiced out.

The internal auditor’s objectivity is not adversely affected when the audit recommends standards of control for systems or review procedures before they are implemented. The auditor’s objectivity is considered to be impaired if the auditor designs, installs, drafts procedures for, or operates such systems. – KH Spencer Pickett

The Audit Approach. IA can be performed in many different ways. Use a risk based systems approach. It can be more useful to examine the proper functioning of systems. Internal auditing provides a powerful level of review. There are several stages on RBSA. The use of CRSA is also possible. IA must be equipped with the right skills to perform the role. Fraud which have yet to be discovered is very alarming indeed. For fraud to take place, there must be the 4 elements: 1) motive; 2) attraction; 3) opportunity; 4) concealment. It is important to set the tone from the top etc. It is important to plan the investigation. Fraud risk assessment must be built in to the risk assessment workshops. VFM audits also may have to be performed. Management should be able to identify cost saving areas. VFM is concerned with the following: 1) economy; 2) efficiency; 3) effectiveness. IA can now also provide consulting services. Learn to manage change. Management is more concerned with the future than the past. IT governance is important as well.

Setting an Audit Strategy. The CAE must ensure that the audit activity adds value to the organization. Objectives must be present. The main role of audit is to give assurance work. The AC must understand clearly what IA is doing. The scope of services must be defined clearly. Audit objective must be geared to the organization’s objectives as well. The CSA approach has its perks. Sometimes, PESTL and SWOT analysis must be done. Audit plans should be driven based on ERM assessment. An audit universe must be defined. Management must be involved in the risk assessment process at least annually. Weaknesses in staff morale etc must be addressed so that the IA team can perform well. The resources used must be able to execute the audit plan. Auditors must be motivated to do their work. Low to medium risk audits can be performed on a rotation basis. An appraisal scheme must be suitably designed. There must be formal appraisal criteria. An auditor should have a career plan. There are many ways to assess an auditor’s performance. An audit manual needs to be written.

Audit Fieldwork. An auditor needs to perform the fieldwork. For each audit, the following must be defined: 1) engagement’s objectives; 2) scope; 3) timing; 4) resource allocations. Try and read through previous audit files. Every audit needs to have an outstanding matters list. Carry out your background research. Get the basic facts with management. Understand the nature of the audit. Highlight the type of audit skills required. If the audit is too difficult or the resources are not sufficient, the audit should be aborted. The senior staff should lead the preliminary meetings. Next, develop audit procedures. Define the tasks that need to be performed, even for the lead auditors. Define the extent of testing. The audit scope must be sufficient to achieve the objectives. For large audits, break them down into deliverables. A trend is for a move away from teamwork with a single auditor being given an audit to streamline resources.

Internal Audit