The Internal Audit Excellence Award ("IAEA") was presented at the Securities Investors' Association (Singapore) Investors' Choice Awards dinner on 16 October 2015. The IAEA honours and recognises public-listed companies that have put in place an effective internal audit function to enhance corporate governance, risk management and internal controls. IIA Singapore congratulates this year's award winner SMRT Corporation Ltd and the runners-up i.e. Frasers Centrepoint Limited and Keppel Corporation Limited. Also, congratulations to Ms. Tan Eng Hwa, General Manager, Group Internal Audit, Keppel Corporation Limited, who is the Special Recognition Award Recipient. The excellent standards and achievements set by the award winners serve as a beacon for the internal audit profession to aspire to.
At this time of the year, Internal Audit (IA) functions will be reviewing and updating their IA plan for 2016. It is important to seek inputs of stakeholders e.g. the Audit Committee, senior and operating management as well as compliance and risk management units to understand the short and longer term businesses strategies and objectives, given the challenging times ahead for most businesses and to better address the emerging risks that will impact organization. IA's efforts need to be clearly aligned to help organizations succeed in managing risks as it pursues new business goals and initiatives.
At the IIA Singapore's Global Leadership Summit and Annual Conference themed "Agents of Change, Pillars of Control" last month, there were interesting discussions and insights not only from IA practitioners but also from IA stakeholders e.g. the Audit Committee Chairs or Members, CEOs and CFOs. Useful inputs, ideas and view points were gathered during the conference and I am sure it will spur many IA practitioners to venture beyond the norms to transform and progress to being strategic advisors and value add partners to their organizations.
Some of the key takeaways are:
a) Internal auditors need to be good communicators and must be able to establish rapport and gain the trust of their stakeholders, namely the Audit Committee and senior management. Auditors need to connect with the business people, build strong relationships with business leaders in order to better understand their expectations, business issues and strategies. Communications would also include sharing valuable insights acquired by IA across the organization to address silos and improve coordination across the organization.
b) IA needs to understand the real world business and commercial issues and look at internal controls with the bigger business agenda in mind. Some organizations put internal auditors on immersion programs that include short term secondments to business or operating units. IA efforts should be aligned with business strategy and provide both assurance and advisory support to the board and senior management in the effective business strategy implementation.
c) Internal auditors need to continually adapt, keep up with and leverage on technology, internal and environment changes and demands to remain relevant and add value to organizations. The CAE of DBS shared how the internal audit in DBS IA has evolved to adopting continuous and predictive auditing. The CAE of Ayala Corporation in the Philippines shared how they have geared up to be a business enabler and partner.
As we plan our strategies and focus of IA for the coming year(s), it is important to plan and build up resources which include competencies and skill sets, engaging external specialists and other enablers to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IA operations. The journey towards IA excellence requires Internal Auditors to continually develop and invest in themselves through learning and development, certification and qualification, networking and relationship building at different platforms e.g. conferences, volunteering in IIA institutes and committees, research and education and advocacy activities to promote the value of IA profession. On this note, it is IIA Singapore's mission to lead the IA profession and advance its value to organizations and we will continue to provide the platforms through seminars and conferences, the IIA Academy as well as participate and provide support in research and promote the importance of IA function to its stakeholders.
Tan Boon Yen