The Essential Role of Internal Audits in Fraud Control
Given the high prevalence of organizational fraud, as reported by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), companies have strong incentives to invest in fraud auditing capabilities—both internal and independent (external) audits. While both are extremely effective, this article is focused on internal audits.
It turns out, companies with properly-structured internal audit systems are less likely to experience severe losses due to internal fraud. Further, we find the existence of a strong internal audit capability is of significant interest to underwriters when reviewing applications for crime and fidelity insurance coverage.
All companies can benefit from an internal audit system. When properly structured it provides a layer of protection and sends a strong message to both company vendors and employees that fraud will be detected quickly and won’t be tolerated. Continued monitoring leads to ever changing processes and controls that provide corrective measures designed to deter and detect fraudulent activity.
However, the likelihood of a company having an internal audit unit varies with the size of the company. Small companies are more often found without the internal audit departments, largely based on cost. These firms utilize the services of an independent audit firm to minimize exposure to fraud. This will be the topic of our next article.
7 Best Practices for Internal Audit
The internal audit, like any audit, requires sufficient autonomy, resources, skills, and access to relevant records to produce reliable results. It should operate according to a plan created and/or approved by the Board of Directors, with transparency in its functions that communicates its purpose to all vendors and employees. Communicating a strong message of zero tolerance on fraud and abuse is essential. The internal audit committee has an obligation to report the self-identified audit issue to the Audit Committee or the Board of Directors itself, if possible. … Continue reading