May is International Internal Audit Awareness Month. The goal is to encourage the Internal Auditing career and remind colleagues as well as the organization of the critical role our profession plays in improving governance, risk management and compliance to achieve business objectives.
Granted, we do not always enjoy the same appreciation compared with Business entities and other assurance providers, but this should not discourage us from discharging our responsibilities professionally.
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected challenges that are placing the operations, cash flow, customer service, corporate leadership and business continuity under intense pressure.
Consequently, Internal Audit awareness month provides us with another great opportunities to collaborate closely with management to provide insights and solution towards tackling these challenges and preparing for future eventualities.
Currently, the pandemic situation is evolving and businessesincludingthebanksarestillgrasping with the realities of the extent to which their operations may have been temporarily or permanently disrupted. This is not in consonant with the nature and profile of the crisis envisaged.
For example, in more recent times, there has been an increased exposure to:
n Cyber crisis, including cyber security attacks or IT system outages due to greater connectivity and reliance on IT-systems.
n Government actions, for example, the enforced lockdowns that has reduced movement of goods and people, and consequently led to an increase in business disruptions especially for manual processes.
Areas considered critical to navigate watershed events for Internal Auditors.
❖ Effective credit management will be critical. Debtors may delay payments as much as possible to boost working capital while others may default due to deteriorating business conditions. Hence there is need to increase the number of Credit Risk Management audit for the year Some critical drivers that
consideration duringthis pandemicinclude:
make credit an important
£ Surge in loan restructuring and write-offs request.
£ Spike in customers application for
government support loans.
£ Increased risk of debtors’ defaults thereby increasing credit impairment.
£ Increased risk of non-compliance with internal policies for approving credits in a desperate effort to grow business and revenues amidst a receding economy.
Increased risk of non-compliance with internal policies and regulatory requirements while restructuring debts. Customers with enough business case may be availed longer debtors’ days, additional facilities during this period.
❖ One of the biggest disruptors in the way business is conducted is Digitization.
Digitizationcomeswithitsownunique risks. As such Internal Audit needs to shift focus from postmortem review to monitoring the bank’s control environment on a continuous basis.
Internal Auditors need to embrace a dynamic Risk Assessment approach to identify watershed risk events elevated by the COVID-19. This keeps risk current without the need to complete a full risk assessment. Internal Auditors should see COVID -19 induced risk events as a way to enhance our value to our organization, rather than limiting what we do.