President's message

February 2017

Rising to The Challenges of The Future

Prof Foo See Liang of Singapore Management University (SMU) facilitated an interesting forum at the SMU-X IA Elective class last week. IIA has supported the elective program for students since 2013. The IA Forum for this semester comprises a panel of Heads of IA who spoke on the topic “Disruptive Technology”.

The panelists shared on how digitisation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data analytics, internet of things have impacted their businesses. The changes are rapid. Some jobs are made redundant with processes being made obsolete as human interventions are reduced and eliminated. There are increased vulnerabilities in the digital space.

What does it mean for IA? In general, the panel expressed that an effective internal audit team must have an understanding of technology and continuously train and upskill themselves.

Being competent in data analytics is important as data is changing the face of the world. Insights can be generated by processing and interpreting data that will allow IA to value add to their stakeholders. At the same time, technology is a plus to internal audit, making it possible for IA to work faster and achieve better and more extensive coverage. The panel expressed a common sentiment is that it is critical for IA to work closely with the 1st and 2nd lines of defense. With a collaborative approach, IA can be much more effective than working in isolation.

The challenge of disruptive technology is very real. IIA Singapore is organising the Public Sector Internal Audit Conference on 20-21 April 2017 with the theme “Rising to the Challenges of the Future”. The conference program will cover the topic of disruptive technologies and how IA can rise to the challenges. Do save the date to attend the conference and it will be a valuable opportunity to hear from our speakers and panellists.

Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

January 2017

Start of A Brand New Year

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a wonderful break and are fully re-charged for a brand new year. It is exciting times ahead for internal auditing as we take on new roles and continually adapt to the changing world and environment. 

Let us continue to develop and invest in ourselves through learning and development, professional certification and qualification, networking and relationship building at the different platforms. The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Singapore looks forward to engaging members of the internal audit (IA) profession and encouraging them to actively participate in committees, education, advocacy and many other activities that helps advance the profession to greater heights. Volunteering and contributing in these platforms are not only enriching but provides valuable development opportunities on a personal level as well. 

IIA Singapore has launched a brand new "Learn at Lunch" series, commencing January 2017 (scheduled every 2nd Thursday/Friday of the month). We welcome all to participate and the series is specially planned to bring in experts/practitioners to share new and emerging trends/topics impacting the profession. 

Just to also note the new International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing (Standards) that takes effect from January 1, 2017. The revised Standards include two new Standards, the alignment of the Standards to the Core Principles and some updates to existing Standards. The new Standards (1112 and 1130) addresses the reality that increasingly, CAEs are expected to take on risk management, compliance or other roles beyond internal auditing. Such roles may impair or appear to impair the orgniasational independence of the IA acticity or the individual objectivity of the internal auditor. It is important to maintain safeguards for such activities. 

It is also time to wish all good health, happiness and great fortune in the year of the Rooster! 

Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

December 2016

2017 and IA’s Transformation Journey
My best wishes and sincere thanks to our members, collaborating institutes and partners for their support as we conclude an eventful 2016 and shift our momentum into the new year.
Although the general economic outlook and business environment is not optimistic, it will not be all gloom and doom for businesses as there will be opportunities amidst challenges. Businesses have entered the age of disruption and need to review and adapt their business strategies to remain relevant. 
The Internal Audit (IA) profession is also undergoing a transformation journey. While the emerging risks landscape presents internal auditors with a more complex task, it also presents unprecedented opportunities. Internal auditors are uniquely positioned to play a role in contributing to the success of their organizations and IA’s insights can be an engine for innovation and business improvement. IA professionals need to acquire new skills, explore new opportunities and exercise creativity in ways that create value for their organization. IA functions must fully evaluate their staff's capabilities and take steps to fill the gaps between current skills and the skills required to respond to growth.
IIA Singapore will continue to promote internal audit excellence and provide platforms to nurture the development of IA professionals, drive thought leadership and promote sharing of knowledge. Incidentally, the institute will be launching a Mentorship programme with the Singapore Accountancy Commission in 2017 for aspiring Chief Audit Executives. The main objective of the mentorship programme is to connect aspiring CAEs with a more experienced Mentor whose knowledge, guidance and expertise will enable and support the Mentee in his/her journey to grow professionally. 
We look forward to an exciting year ahead working towards greater progress with the IA profession and creating the value in our organisations.
Wishing all a blessed Christmas and New Year ahead!
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

November 2016

Managing Stakeholders’ Expectations
In today’s environment, organisations seek value from internal audit (IA) functions and expect more than an assurance report on internal controls. 
At the IIA Singapore’s Global IA Leadership Summit and the Asian Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (ACIIA) Conference last week (16-18 November), there were many useful insights from speakers, panelists, IA practitioners and IA stakeholders who participated in the conference. Just to summarise 4 key takeaways relating to managing stakeholders’ expectations, with words that start with “C”:
“Collaborate” – Building collaborative relationships with stakeholders is important and relationship acumen is a key attribute for IA leaders. To quote Richard Chambers in his book “Lessons Learned on the Audit Trail” - “A confident and courageous CAE who spends time building relationships can negotiate a middle ground that meets the goals of both board and management in the long run”
“Communicate” - Communicate and provide insights and advice to stakeholders in areas that resonate with their concerns and build trust. Engage stakeholders continuously to bridge any gaps in expectations and priorities. Frequent face-to-face meetings and discussions are important. Not just written communication.
“Customers” – The IIA Research Foundation and Protiviti has published a Stakeholder Survey “Voice of the Customer” in July 2016. It contains recommendations from stakeholders on best practices that internal auditors should consider in their quest to continually improve performance and bring value to their organizations.
“Change” – IA must keep up with change. Feel the pulse of the organisation and its internal and external environment. Focus on high impact areas. Leverage on technology to devise new and efficient ways of auditing.
Other important “C”s are courage, conviction, continuous monitoring, culture, critical thinking, cyber security, connecting the dots, coordination, competencies and the list goes on….
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen


October 2016

Scaling New Heights In Governance
The Internal Audit Excellence Award was presented at the Securities Investors' Association (Singapore) (“SIAS”) Investors' Choice Awards dinner on 30 September 2016. IIA Singapore congratulates this year's award Keppel Corporation Limited and the Runners-Up, City Development Limited and Fraser & Neave, Limited.  
It is important to recognise the value that IA brings to the organisation and its stakeholders. IA provides objective assurance and insight on the effectiveness and efficiency of governance, risk management and internal control processes. IIA Singapore applauds SIAS in raising awareness of the investor community on the role of IA in protecting and enhancing long term shareholder value.
All organisations should work towards “Scaling New Heights in Governance”. This is the theme of the upcoming Asian Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (“ACIIA”) Conference 2016 on 17 & 18 November 2016 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre. IIA Singapore is proud to be the host country this year and look forward to welcoming our foreign delegates.  This year’s Global Internal Audit Leadership Summit (GIALS) will be held on 16 November 2016 and 200 IA leaders from Singapore and around the region are expected to converge at the summit.
We are very honoured to have Ms. Angela Witzany, the 2016-17 IIA Global Chairman of the Board and Mr. Richard Chambers, IIA Global President and CEO at the conferences. We have a line-up of regional and global speakers and topics that are insightful and relevant to the current business and economic climate e.g. “Combating Money Laundering through Governance”, “Navigating Technology Risks”, “Cybersecurity Landscape and Asia”, “Data and Analytics” and “Proactive Fraud Analysis”. 
The 3-day event will end with our 40th year anniversary Gala Dinner on 18 November 2016. This year’s event will especially memorable and exciting and we look forward to seeing everyone to catch up and have a great time!
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

September 2016

Investing in Yourself
One of IIA Singapore's vision is to develop the skills of internal auditors through education and professional development. Through the IIA Singapore Academy, we aim to raise the professional competency of IA professionals as well as the wider communities of risk management and finance professionals.  Guided by The IIA Global Internal Audit Competency Framework consisting of 10 core competencies, the IIA Academy identifies and designs seminars suited for each broad job level, namely internal audit staff, internal audit management, and the chief audit executive. In 2015, about 60 seminars were organized by our IIA Academy using the Competency Framework.
In the 2016 Global Internal Audit Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) study, the world’s largest ongoing study of the internal audit profession with 14,518 respondents, “analytical/critical thinking” and “communication skills” were identified as the top two skills Chief Audit Executives survey respondents have expressed to be skills that they are recruiting or building the most in their internal audit department.  The IIA Academy will continue to include seminars to upskill the participants in the areas. The study also showed that about 4 out of 10 survey respondents received less than 40 hours of training per year, which is below the required level to maintain many IIA certifications. The Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirement of 40 hours is the annual guideline for practising CIA-certified professionals. With the reporting deadline being 31 December each year, all are encouraged to plan for the continual update in various competencies.
I am happy announce that IIA Singapore has successfully secured the ISCA-CIA Challenge Exam which is a one-off accelerated pathway offered to qualified members of The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), to earn the certification upon passing one condensed exam.  The exam application period is from 1 September to 31 October 2016. 
It is important for all of us to continue to invest in ourselves to develop professionally and progress in our career. 
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

August 2016

Celebrating the 75 th Anniversary of IIA
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) celebrated its 75th anniversary in New York during the week long events from July 16th to 20th at the Global Council meeting and the IIA International Conference. Established in 1941, the membership of IIA has grown to more than 180,000 representing more than 170 countries. 
As members of IIA, it is a great time to commemorate the effort and commitment of the global institute for the journey and outstanding achievements towards its vision that “Internal Audit Professionals will be universally recognized as indispensable to effective governance, risk management and control”.  IIA’s efforts in driving professionalism as been outstanding e.g. 1) professional certifications, standards and guidance, 2) research, studies and surveys e.g. the CBOK reports by the IIA Research Foundation and 3) thought leaderships publications/forums e.g. the Global Pulse of the Profession and the IA magazine.
Ms Angela Witzany, the head of internal audit at Sparkassen Versicherung AG, takes over as Chairman of the IIA Global Board of Directors for 2016-2017 in July 2016. Under her chairmanship, she has adopted the theme "Audit Never Sleeps" to express the constant vigilance that practitioners must embrace to identify and respond to risks that can threaten their organisations. Ms. Witzany will be delivering the opening address at the Asian Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (ACIIA) Conference in Singapore on 17 and 18 November 2016.  Just a reminder to also sign-up early for this conference to catch the early bird rates which closes mid September.
The IIA Singapore’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is coming up soon on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at the Singapore Marriot Tang Plaza Hotel at 6:30pm. This year is also our 40th anniversary which is themed “Building Collaborative Relationships”.  Do save the date to attend the AGM and look forward to catching up with members.
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

July 2016

Combined Assurance Approach on Effectiveness of Internal Controls
A recent review was commissioned by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) to examine the annual reports of 545 mainboard listed companies for fiscal year between July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 with the intent of using the results to help companies improve their disclosures and overall governance standards. One of the key observations was that while 95 per cent of the companies indicated that an internal audit (IA) function exists, only 53 per cent disclosed the effectiveness of internal controls. 
Internal control as defined by the COSO framework is a process, effected by an entity's board of directors, management and other personnel. It is designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of objectives relating to effectiveness and efficiency of operations; reliability of financial reporting and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. 
To assess the effectiveness of internal controls, it is important to apply the combined assurance framework. The assurance should be provided collectively by the board, senior management and other internal assurance providers supporting management are risk management, internal control and compliance functions. However, based on the IIA Research Foundation’s Global IA Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) 2015 Practitioner Survey, it was noted that globally, only 59% of respondents were aware of combined assurance , and in East Asia and Pacific, the percentage was 50%. 
IA as an independent function that reports to the audit committee plays an important role in facilitating or coordinating the combined assurance framework. 
At the same time, it is also important for organisations to be aware that internal control is not a panacea that provides complete assurance. It can only provide “reasonable assurance” due to inherent limitations in all internal control systems e.g. the human frailty in making business decisions, circumvention of internal controls by the collusion of two or more people and management override of internal controls.
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen

June 2016

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Reviews

In the recent news of BSI Bank being asked by MAS to shut down its merchant bank operation in Singapore, we are reminded that with the growing global terrorists and organized crime threats and regulatory requirements, breaches of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules should be taken seriously as it could result in fines, criminal charges and also removal of the bank’s license to operate. 

Banks are required to establish AML programmes that include Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures to prevent banks from being used for money laundering activities. In Singapore, there are AML Laws and Regulations that requires banks operating in Singapore to establish robust procedures that would not only detect but also deter the flow of illicit funds through the local financial system. Failures in the governance or lapses in AML controls would expose the banks to reputational, operational and compliance risks. 
In the assessment of AML risks, it is important for compliance and internal audit functions to assess not only policies, systems and processes but also the people and other intangible aspects of the organisation. The organisational culture and tone at the top influences the level of control consciousness of people within the organisation. It is necessary to evaluate management’s philosophy and operating style and commitment level to integrity and ethical behavior. It is necessary to get a good understanding of the internal and external operating environment that could have an impact on senior management’s approach in taking business risks, meeting budgets, profit and other financial and operating goals. 
To keep up with the escalating concerns and regulatory pressures, Internal Audit departments should work closely with their stakeholders to review the robustness of the organisation’s AML programme and monitoring compliance.  It is also important to review the organisation’s governance structure to ensure that there is a clear commitment from the top and independent channels to report unethical practices or violations.
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen


May 2016

May is International Internal Audit Awareness Month
May is International Internal Audit Awareness Month and it is a great opportunity to promote the value of internal audit to our customers, executive management, board of directors and other stakeholders. For example, organisations can hold lunch-and-learn sessions with staff at all levels of the organisation to share what is the purpose of internal audit, how it is an integral part of the organization and also, very importantly, the value proposition of internal audit to the stakeholders.  The IIA Singapore (IIAS) has been invited to attend such an event organised by one of the Internal Audit Department in Singapore and the expected turnout is 150! 
It is important for internal audit (IA) functions to share their broader role and how the organisation as a whole, can tap on IA capabilities and resource, not only in strengthening of internal controls and governance, but also to provide objective assessments and insights into their businesses and operations. IA also focuses on alignment of business, operations and goals. Good collaborative efforts with management, business and operating teams pave the way for continuous review and improvements of performance, operations, processes and systems. Internal auditors of today are no longer accountants by training. Rather, they are from diverse backgrounds and skill sets such as business and industry specific knowledge, IT and data mining and analytics. They have a broader focus that includes risk management, operational efficiencies and effectiveness and compliance management, and are important business advisors and change catalysts. 
In celebration of the International Internal Audit Awareness Month, IIAS has organised an interesting evening talk cum networking event (find out more or register here) on 26 May 2016 where internal auditors can bring their auditees/clients, CEOs, CFOs, AC members, etc, to join them for the evening, mingle and enjoy the food & drinks.  
Do not miss the unique opportunity to interact with your IA stakeholders and do mark your calendars and sent them an invite soon!!
Yours Sincerely
Tan Boon Yen