Morison Menon Chartered Accountants

Internal audit and benefits of outsourcing - Morison Menon

Blog post   •   Feb 10, 2011 11:07 GMT

The internal audit function is one of the fundamental “checks and balances” for sound corporate governance.  A question that agitates the Board of Directors of any organization is how competent and independent is the internal audit team in the organization.
Corporate governance has been under a strong and critical public spotlight in recent years, in the wake of a succession of blows to market confidence and integrity, particularly in the United States and other countries as well.  The investor community’s expectations of boards and senior management, and of those charged with providing an independent review of a company’s operations and financial accounts, have been raised.
To meet the expectations of investing community, the governments and regulatory authorities around the globe have been trying to synchronization of accounting dubai standards, strengthening the corporate governance principles, lifting the bar on “criteria’s and propriety “of directors and introducing improved market disclosure standards.
In this demanding environment, boards and senior management need quality advice from sources that can be trusted and that can offer an objective view about the systems and processes and adequacy of internal controls that helps the company set ups Dubai to be on the right track. In contrast to external audit, internal audit function still needs to attain the maturity levels. Internal auditors need to focus beyond compliance activities and should be smart enough to detect loopholes at systemic levels and bring improvement in systems and processes that helps companies to improve the bottom-line.
I would cover in brief the role of internal audit versus risk management, expectations of regulators, and my assessment of internal audit functions based on our experience with clients and lastly why it makes sense to outsource internal audit.
Internal audit versus risk management
There are several definitions of internal audit as per standards followed by different countries. My favorite pick would be “Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and business consulting in dubai activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations.  It helps an organisation accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.”
Many industry leaders are unable to distinguish between internal audit and risk management. The basic function of internal audit is independent appraisal of organizations internal controls, including controls over financial reporting.  The by-product of internal audit will be recommendations on internal control and process improvements.  Risk management, on the other hand, is about identifying and assessing inherent risks in the systems and processes, having appropriate risk thresholds, having control mechanisms and mitigation strategies in place to contain risk within the organizations risk thresholds. Risk management is critical in helping an institution plan its strategic response to its changing risk profile and ensuring effective risk management processes are in place to respond quickly.  A checking function (similar to internal audit) is often involved to ensure that the risk control framework is in place and risk thresholds are not breached. Internal audit also plays a complementary role in evaluating whether the controls are practical, whether they are functional and how they might be circumvented.
The distinction is that risk management is on continuous basis carried out to understand the changing risk perception day-by-day or on weekly basis and have mitigation in place if necessary. Also risk management is better done by the internal stakeholders themselves since they only understand the changing risk profile and its impact on the organization.
Internal Audit Dubai on other hand is a planned activity based on inputs of risk management and other management inputs.
Regulators expectations
According to Basel Committee’s “recommendations (for banking sector) essential criteria” for the internal audit function is:

  • have unfettered access to all the bank’s business lines and support departments;
  • have appropriate independence, including reporting lines to the board of directors and status within the bank to ensure that senior management reacts to and acts upon its recommendations;
  • have sufficient resources, and staff that are suitably trained and have relevant experience, to understand and evaluate the business it is Audit UAE and Accounting UAE
  • Employ a methodology that identifies the key risks run by the bank and allocates its resources accordingly.

The language of the Insurance Core Principles and Methodology, developed by International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), is almost identical on the role of internal audit in insurance company formation Dubai
The Basel Committee has set out many important principles for the internal audit function. A few of them are:

  • Internal audit function must be independent of the activities audited and independent from the everyday internal control process.  This implies there has to be objectivity and impartiality in the functioning of internal audit;  and
  • Every activity and every entity of the institution should fall within the scope of the internal audit.  This means there should be no scope for exclusions permissible though extent and frequency of internal audit of each function in an organization may vary.

Assessment of internal audit function
In many organizations internal audit function is an additional responsibility and often leads to conflict of interest. Also where we have noticed that internal audit department is independent, people are routinely drawn from functional role into the internal audit department. In such scenarios the internal auditor often need to asses functions wherein they have worked earlier. Objective audit in such cases are not practical.
Establishing the authority of internal audit department and internal auditor cannot be set by the management. The authority of the internal audit function has to be earned by the auditors through their conduct and reporting of the audit. Lack of required skill sets acts as dampener to the individual auditor gaining respect and authority leading to the function becoming ineffective.
Also in many instances we have noticed CEO’s putting up pliant internal auditors thereby negating the objective of the function as well as the Board of Directors.
In small and medium organizations in-house internal auditors don’t have full time role and end up being idle or assigned other operational role along with the internal audit function. Such appointments are sure recipe for ineffective internal audit function.
Benefits of outsourcing internal audit
Since internal auditor needs to be a professional who is not only independent but also competent to carry out the audit effectively it is in the organizations interest to outsource the internal audit function.  The benefits of outsourcing audit services and Dubai Accounting Services by UAE Accountants far outweigh the prospect of having an in-house person. Few of the benefits of outsourcing internal audit dubai role are as follows:

  1. Easy to establish authority and independence;
  2. Avoiding conflict situations;
  3. Having specialist person whose core competency is performing internal audit role;
  4. Getting internal auditors with specific knowledge of departments and functions from business services Dubai provider based on function being audited;
  5. Ensuring internal audits go as per plan;
  6. Better utilization of internal audit resource since internal audit unlike risk management is not a continuous activity;
  7. Easy replacement of internal auditor in case of results not being achieved;
  8. Effective reduction is surprises during external audits

Based on our experience with organizations, I am fully convinced that small and medium enterprises should fully outsource the internal function, whereas large ones may have a core team of internal audit function supported by outsourced internal audit team with skills that are complementary to in-house team. There is no harm in trying outsourcing of internal audit function since the risks involved is negligible or nonexistent. There are professional companies that are specialized in providing business consulting in UAE , Dubai Accountants ,set up services UAE , audit services dubai and incorporate in Dubai .

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Morison Menon Chartered Accountants provides professional advisory services in the areas of Accounting Dubai,Accounting Services,Internal Audit Dubai,Audit Services,Audit Dubai,business consulting,UAE Accountants,Business services,business valuation,hr consulting dubai,consulting services,due diligence,incorporate in Dubai,performance consulting,incorporate in UAE,process consulting,company formation UAE,Incorporation help and set up services in Dubai,UAE

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