What do audit checklists/templates have in common with Star Wars?

Star Wars is a classic story that centers around a young slave named Anakin Skywalker who discovers he is one of a special set of people who possess an energy known as the “force”. A Wikipedia entry describes the force as

“an energy field created by all living things [that] surrounds us, penetrates us, [and] binds the galaxy together.”[1] The Force allows users to perform various supernatural feats (such as telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, and mind control) and can amplify certain physical traits, such as speed and reflexes

Posted on Leave a comment

Internal Auditing, Observation, Inquiry, Bribery, Olympics

The scope of an auditor’s job expands constantly. One major aspect of the function is to guard against fraud. Auditors perform a variety to techniques to test for fraud. Two of the most essential fraud discovery techniques are observation and inquiry. Done right, auditors can become valuable organizational assets. Done wrong, auditors can be viewed as overzealous obstacles.

To be successful, auditors must

Posted on Leave a comment

3 Types of Fraud Figures & How to Recognize and Repel Them

I am not sure if there are more people committing fraud, more getting caught, better fraud news coverage or a combination of all, but there seems to be new fraud stories hitting the headlines daily. There seems to be no shortage of individuals willing to risk their freedom and reputation for a few dollars. They range from small to large dollar amounts, to elaborate & sophisticated or simplistic & stupid. Take for example

1. The million dollar Michigan lottery winner who was recently sentenced to probation for receiving $5,475 in food assistance after winning.
2. The convicted rapist who continued to apply for housing benefits

Posted on 1 Comment

Advance Your Audit Career by Participating in Profession Organizations

Knowledge and Networking are the ultimate keys to career advancement. Historically, obtaining both effectively was reserved for the exteremly seasoned professional The internet, specifically search engines (like Google) and news feed aggregators, have been instrumental in flattening out the learning curve. However, knowledge is only one element to successful career management. It is important that we also develop and maintain a sound support network. Having a support network is just as much about giving as it is getting. Therefore, volunteering your time, talents and knowledge is fundamental to building and maintaining a successful support network. The following is a list of ways internal auditors can

Posted on 2 Comments

Can Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Reduce BYOD Risk?

The proliferation of bringing personally owned mobile devices into the workplace, and using the devices to access privileged company resources such as email, file servers, and databases is known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). It is very widespread. Many of us know people who access corporate email on their personal smartphone or tablet. Organizations should be concerned with BYOD for some of the following reasons

Posted on Leave a comment

Overcoming the 5 Classic Myths About Internal Auditing

In a recent article, Richard Chambers, IIA CEO, identified the following “Five Classic Myths About Internal Auditing”

Internal auditors are accountants by training.
Auditors are nit-pickers and fault-finders.
It’s best not to tell the auditors anything unless they specifically ask.
Internal auditors follow a cycle in selecting their audit “targets” and use standard checklists so they can audit the same things the same way each time.
Internal audit is the corporate “police function.”

These “myths” are spot on. But how do we overcome the

Posted on 5 Comments

Building Credibility with Audit Clients

In 2007, I found myself working for what would soon become a failed financial institution. That is a nice way of saying that the bank would no longer be in business. I spent the previous 8 or so years in the financial services industry. Unfortunately, internal auditing jobs in the industry were not plentiful in the city where I lived. Grant it, I have experience in several industries, but I was able to truly connect with clients in financial services. For quite some time, I thought I was able to relate because I had some expertise in the industry and could “speak the language”. The next 5 years taught me a lot about my role in the profession of internal auditing and some fundamental truths about working

Posted on 1 Comment

5 Practical Ways to Use Evernote During Audits

Evernote is a service “in the cloud” that helps you “remember everything, communicate effectively and get things done (www.evernote.com).” Evernote provides tools that allow you to store notes, documents, photos, web pages, voice recordings, tweets and almost anything that you can imagine. You can transfer these items from any computer and most smartphones. Additionally, you can access these same documents from any computer and most smartphones. What follows are 5 practical ways for auditors

Posted on Leave a comment

The Power of Observation & Inquiry

Observation and Inquiry is an important skill set that must be in every auditors toolkit. It requires us to remain objective at all times. I find it interesting how this skill is not only applicable to auditing, but also in “life outside of audit” interactions. I recently wrote about what appeared to be bribery at the London Olympics. Further inquiry disclosed that this normal and acceptable behavior. Well, I have noticed another instance of good observation, ineffective inquiry.

Posted on Leave a comment

What keeps you up at night…Who Cares!

Early in my career, I had an audit client teach me a valuable lesson. He taught me (1) there is power in the questions we ask (2) not all clients are forth coming with information and (3) as auditors we need to learn to ask better questions. We were interviewing the client as part of our preliminary planning. The more senior auditors on the engagement directed the questioning. Of course they asked the most popular and probably the least useful question that many auditors ask…What keeps you up at night? The client responded, “Nothing, I sleep very well”. While this was not the ideal answer, it made me question how we “question”. I understand the intent of the “what keeps you up” question. We really want to attempt to understand if our clients have any concerns. But let’s face it, we are auditors. Many clients are not 100% forthcoming. I believe that there are 6 better questions

Posted on Leave a comment

The Tweet That Killed The Company

Organizations must tread diligently in this new world of “tweet” this, “like” that, “pin” those, “Linked” in and “Red” it. Organizations are more and more realizing the impact of social media on their business. We are now starting to see social media policies, social media managers, content writers and other opportunities in this growing field. Many realize that a carefully managed strategy can increase customer base, brand loyalty and sales. When sales are affected, management will adopt policies to drive social media strategy in a direction that best benefits the organization. Now, the question I ask is

Posted on 1 Comment

Don’t Forget Historic Risks

What happens when your audit clients substantially or fully remediate identified control issues prior to the final report distribution? Do you (1) remove the item from the report, (2) include the item in the report with the management action plan as if no action has been taken or (3) include the item in the report, credit

Posted on 1 Comment

When Exit Meetings Go Awry

Are your exit meetings oftentimes explosive events in which you and your client are in consistent disagreement about the issues? Or, do you find that sometimes your clients are surprised by the nature and extent of the issues. Exit meeting preparation and communication begins well before the formal exit meeting. As a matter of fact, it begins prior

Posted on Leave a comment

Internal Auditor Magazine – There’s an app for that!

The IA magazine, published by the IIA, is probably one of the best audit resources on the market. The content is usually relevant and with over 70,000 members across the globe, the distribution is covers a diverse group of professionals. It is one of the valuable membership benefits. It has been available in print format for many years. Additionally, the IIA distributes content via the internet. Recently, the IIA released an app for the IA magazine. This article is a review

Posted on 2 Comments

5 Qualities of a Strong Board

The role of the Board in organizations is one of oversight. Boards are charged with representing various stakeholder groups to ensure the organization fulfill their mission, vision, goals and objectives. A strong Board provides unparalleled guidance. A weak Board can lead (or oversee) an organization down a path to destruction. Given the significance of the role, there is much discussion about what a successful Board should look like.

As internal auditors, we support the Board by identifying, evaluating and reporting on the

Posted on Leave a comment

4 Factors to Building a World Class Audit Function

Dictionary.com defines “world class” as ranking among the world’s best. So what does that really mean for an internal audit department? The scope and nature of an auditor’s job varies by organization, size and region. As a result, “world class” is difficult to clearly define. However, there are a few characteristics that can enhance the value an audit function delivers to an organization. I believe these characteristics surround the Personnel, Practices, Perception and Partnerships

Posted on 2 Comments