Goals

Posted on Feb 8, 2012

Now that we’ve cleared the hurdles of year-end reporting, it’s time to set personal, professional, and financial goals. I’ll summarize the personal and financial goals (e.g., eat healthier, exercise more, donate time and treasure to charity, and spend less) and focus more on the professional goals — specifically the goals for our department. 

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Jargon

Posted on Oct 20, 2011

I looked up the term jargon and got the dictionary definition: “1. a: confused unintelligible language; b: a strange, outlandish, or barbarous language or dialect.” Yup. That sounds about right.

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Ethics and Compliance

Posted on Aug 25, 2011

Does your internal audit team have responsibility for monitoring and reporting on your company’s ethics hotline? In benchmarking with my peers, it seems that about a third of the companies I talk to have some direct responsibility within internal audit to perform this task, while the rest do not. Although all would participate in investigations if calls were received regarding fraudulent employee activities, theft, or other financial matters.

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Sarbanes-Oxley

Posted on Jul 21, 2011

I'm curious — how many internal audit departments are still devoting time to U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 testing? I'm guessing this is pretty routine by now. Testing starts by identifying the material accounts or processes, maybe even with a risk assumption for susceptibility to understatement (liabilities), theft (cash and receivables), or a high degree of estimation (inventory obsolescence, bad debt). The process is all very well documented, the templates are pretty, and there's nowhere near the drama of the early years, before the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's Auditing Standard No. 5.

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The Audit Universe

Posted on Jun 27, 2011

Conventional wisdom and common practice have resulted in the development of the … drum roll please … audit universe — the starting point for internal audit plan development. The audit universe is the sandbox in which internal auditors play. It represents all things (lines of business, subsidiaries, alliances, and processes) that are considered “auditable” by internal audit teams. It is a big list, and we measure coverage against this list. Math can get a little tricky, but we forge forward nonetheless.

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Social Media

Posted on May 17, 2011

One of the best movie lines I’ve heard was from the movie The Social Network. The soon to be ex-girlfriend commented that when you write something on the Internet, you’re writing in pen, not pencil. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used those words when nagging my teenage kids about their Facebook posts. There is a lot of material out there to gather if you want to find out about a person’s life outside of work, or before they get a job offer.

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Knowledge Sharing

Posted on Apr 11, 2011

One of the best ways to improve department performance is to share ideas with companies of like size or industry. A week ago, my team attended a knowledge sharing session jointly hosted by the internal audit departments of The Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, and Nike. We spent three days in Atlanta (one day spent at each of the Atlanta-based corporate headquarters) focused on sharing information about department size and structure as well as the unique aspects of each audit practice.

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Innovation

Posted on Mar 8, 2011

My teenage children have found a new pastime. They like to rattle off lists of everyday items that were invented after their parents were born. They find this to be hilarious. Items topping their list include cable television, cell phones, laptop computers, software, the Internet, Kindle, Xbox, CDs, and DVDs. Of course, this game is followed by a bunch of questions about how we used to live in the “good old days” — with only three network television stations and no ESPN. When I tell them that my family didn’t own a color TV until I was well past grade school, they seem stunned. So much has changed.

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Convergence

Posted on Jan 25, 2011

The accounting profession has been busy. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is rewriting accounting rules related to revenue recognition, leasing, financial instruments, and insurance contracts — phew — that’s a lot to tackle at once, and there’s more to follow. Comment letters are flying. Companies are more engaged in monitoring FASB meetings than ever before, the accounting firms are trying to educate their clients and audit committees, and internal auditing is gearing up to perform readiness assessments — once we can figure out when to book the work.

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Benchmarking

Posted on Dec 6, 2010

I’ve been to a number of benchmarking sessions recently with other audit executives — both in the travel industry and from other large public companies. I always get a lot out of these sessions. A different perspective, a different approach, and general discussions about emerging risk really help me to bring new ideas and different thoughts to my team for consideration. Although our workdays are busy, I try to encourage my management team to attend these sessions as well.

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