June 18, 2018

Most U.S. Internal Audit Teams Still Crunching Numbers on Cave Walls Compared to Their European, Asian Counterparts

Even this guy is like, “What are you guys doing?”

Read anything online and you’re likely to be told some variation of “The rapid pace of technology is disrupting X.” And since those words appear on the internet, adjacent to stock images of word clouds, or an illuminated light bulb, or a smug nerd with people clacking away on laptops in the background, you assume that the rapid pace of technology is disrupting X. If this technology is making some headway then, great; good for you, little disruptors!

But according to a Protiviti survey mentioned in this Wall Street Journal article, one little corner of the world that has managed to resist a fair amount of disrupting is American internal auditors.

U.S. companies are trailing their counterparts in Europe and Asia in the crucial task of integrating data analysis tools into the expanding role of internal auditors, according to a survey by management consulting firm Protiviti Inc.

“People are not moving at a pace of change that is responsive enough,” said Brian Christensen, executive vice president, global internal audit at the firm.

The survey found that 70 percent of Asian and 79 percent of European internal audit departments have “a dedicated data analytics function”; the U.S. came in at 40 percent. Christensen says, “Those who fail to integrate these initiatives risk becoming obsolete,” which sounds a lot like “DON’T MAKE US SEND IN THE ROBOTS.”

What gives, Internal Audit America? Are you warming your offices by campfire? Shall we send Emeril Lagasse in to bark “Kick it up a notch” every 15 minutes? Come on, this is embarrassing.

[WSJ]

Related articles

Accounting News Roundup: Geithner Is Ready to Let Tax Cuts Die; Hayward on His Way Out?; PwC Wants Glitnir Lawsuit Tossed | 07.26.10

No new recession, let tax cuts die: Geithner [Reuters]
“The economy is not likely to slip back into recession but letting tax cuts for tans expire is necessary to show commitment to cutting budget deficits, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday.

In appearances on several Sunday talk shows, Geithner said only 2 to 3 percent of Americans — those making $250,000 or more a year — will be affected when tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush end on schedule this year.”

BP Said to Prepare Dudley as CEO as Board Looks for Recovery [Bloomberg]
“BP Plc plans to name Robert Dudley to succeed Tony Hayward as chief executive officer as the board looks to recover the company’s position in the U.S., two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Dudley, the director of BP’s oil spill response unit, is ready to be announced as the company’s first American chief and to take the helm Oct. 1, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because a final decision hasn’t yet been made. The decision was reached in discussions with board members about how best to take BP forward and rebuild its U.S. position, the person said.”

Madoff Investors Brace for Lawsuits [WSJ]
“Irving Picard said he could wind up suing about half the estimated 2,000 individual investors he has called “net winners” from their dealings with Mr. Madoff. Such investors withdrew more from Mr. Madoff’s firm than the amount of principal they invested.

‘The people who made money, who got more, have made money at the expense of the people who didn’t,’ said Mr. Picard, who has the power under federal bankruptcy provisions to pursue money withdrawn from Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC before it collapsed in December 2008 and redistribute the funds fairly among victims.

Mr. Picard must file any so-called clawback lawsuits by December, the two-year anniversary of Mr. Madoff’s arrest and the filing of regulatory proceedings against him. ‘We’re not going to wait until the last minute,’ Mr. Picard said.”


Change the world or go home [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett implores you that if you want your firm or business to really stand out then it’s going to take more than a catchy slogan or a boilerplate email to get people’s attention. You best recognize an opportunity when you see one.

“I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve said but it is worth repeating. When disruption like SaaS comes along, it represents an opportunity. From a professional standpoint it should mean that firms can further commoditize what they do by using accounting dashboards that show them the status of their clients’ activity. It is a short step to seeing how this might be integrated into fees, billing, customer satisfaction measurement and the like.”

If You’re Going To San Francisco…AAA Will Be There [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
Edith Orenstein has the lowdown on this year’s American Accounting Association’s (AAA) annual meeting. This year’s event is in AG’s backyard (she loves giving directions, btw) from July 31 to August 4th and will feature Francine McKenna and Professor Albrecht on one of the panels.

Join Me For a Nice Little CPA Exam Chat on August 3rd! [JDA]
Speaking of Adrienne, she’ll be over at CPA Exam Club to take your questions on everyone’s favorite test on August 3rd. Yes, that’s one week from tomorrow.

PwC Demands Dismissal of Glitnir Lawsuit [Iceland Review]
PwC’s lawyers argue that Glitnir and the firm agreed to do any legal wrangling in Iceland if the poo hit the fan. Late last week they requested that the lawsuit in New York be tossed.

Saltzman Hamma firm details merger with RubinBrown [Denver Business Journal]
“Saltzman Hamma Nelson Massaro LLP, a century-old Denver accounting firm, is merging with St. Louis-based RubinBrown LLP to form what’s expected to be among the 50 largest accounting firms in the United States, principals were set to announce on July 23.

The new entity, which will operate as RubinBrown, will employ 375 people in offices in Denver, St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo. The merger will be effective Aug. 1.”

District Court Denies Charitable Deduction for Donation of Home to Fire Department [TaxProf Blog]
Just donate a car next time. It’s a far worse investment than a house.

IRS Proposes PTIN Fees [JofA]
$50 for your very own preparer tax identification number! Of course there’s also a ‘reasonable fee’ on top of that from “a third-party vendor that will administer the application and renewal process,” that gets thrown in for good measure.

My Life as a White-Collar Criminal [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar went on Canadian TV last week to talk about how much fun it is to be a crook. Except the whole possibility of prison part.

CFO Article Illustrates Internal Audit Cowardice & CCM Confusion

the-cowardly-lion.jpgEditor’s Note: Robert Stewart is a former Big 4 auditor and ex-Marine who has since served in several executive management roles in both Internal Audit and Corporate Finance. He is also the founder and chief contributor to the online accounting and audit community, The Accounting Nation. Outside of work, he is a husband, father, brother, writdequate aspiring triathlete.
Alright, CFO.com, with your latest contribution you’ve satisfied your requirement to pander to your internal audit constituents. If you put a little more effort into the headline, they might read it too. With an article paraphrase like:

A biotherapy firm’s continuous controls monitoring program, which is essentially run by its internal audit team, is credited with creating numerous (though unquantifiable) benefits

you’ve assured that nobody will read further. Talk about hard hitting journalism. Grabs ya’ right by the goods and begs you to read more…doesn’t it? Well, I did read more. Because I am an idiot. Because I need to get out more. Because I’m an internal audit junkie. And mostly because I just love the apathy directed at internal audit by “real” business people.


This article touts the benefits of implementing a Continuous Controls Monitoring system through the “success” story of Talecris Biotherapeutics, a $1.4 billion provider of injectionable medical treatments.
Here’s what I have to say about some points in the article:
The quote that exemplifies why there is such apathy toward Internal Audit: “‘We can’t help [management] design controls or tell them that a control is the right one to have in place, but we can help them monitor it,’ states Mary Anne Tourney, IAD at Telecris.” This, of course, is bullshit. YOUR JOB IS TO HELP MANAGEMENT.
Don’t twist the IIA Standards to relinquish one of the tenets of your responsibilities (i.e. to offer “advisory” services to management). Hiding behind the independence argument is cowardice. Maybe if you acted like a member of management, they’d treat you like a member of management (and CFO.com might capitalize your title in its article).
• As for the program’s ownership, Tourney states that management designs the controls, ‘But we control the program in internal audit so the parameters of the tests don’t get changed without our knowledge.’ WTF? Where is your independence argument now? Listen, you can’t just apply the standards when they suit you and bend them when they’re inconvenient.
• Miklos Vasarhelyi, a Rutgers professor, states that quantification of the CCM program’s effectiveness is difficult and it’s “flaky” to do too much quantification. At another point in the article, Talecris declined to comment on how much it has spent on the CCM system.
This illustrates another point that internal audit practitioners need to understand better: it’s not just about having an en vogue system that you can brag to your fellow IA geeks about at the local IIA chapter meeting. It’s about spending the company’s money where you get the greatest return on investment. Calling the act of quantifying the ROI of the system “a bit flaky” illustrates why this guy is a professor instead of a CFO. Shareholders don’t care if you have the Cadillac of internal control systems unless it translates into increased shareholder value. This may not always drive the best behavior but let’s face it, that’s how the game works.
Look, the jury on CCM is still out in my book. Although I believe the foundation is sound, I’m not sure about the relative importance in the web of controls chosen by an organization to mitigate its risk. It is, after all, still a back-end monitoring tool that detects anomalies after they have occurred and I’m inclined to spend more of my money on the preventative controls rather than detective controls.
And to all you Internal Auditors out there, stop being afraid to consult management on their internal controls and make control recommendations. THAT’S. YOUR. JOB. You can’t implement or own the controls, but for god’s sake, share your knowledge to improve the organization. It’s the only way for internal audit to start getting some respect (it’s a good start anyway).