Monday, February 02, 2009

Ten (or eleven) things for audit committees to do in 2009

The KPMG-sponsored Audit Committee Institute has re-issued and up-dated its Ten To-Do’s for Audit Committees. Compared with the 2008 version, the 2009 edition reflects the issues of the credit crunch and recession weighing on corporates (and assumes the absence of the kind of finance committee seen in several sectors like FE and HE) so some of the content is less salient to not-for-profits. Nevertheless, the document is very useful in giving audit committee’s things to think and talk about.

I would recommend that all audit committee members download the document and regularly look at the Audit Committee Institute website.

Some issues raised in the document are worth reiterating here. The Ten Do’s urges audit committees to thoroughly review risk management processes:

With the benefit of hindsight and possible “lessons” from the financial crisis, consider the adequacy and effectiveness of the company’s processes for managing risk (management’s processes and the board’s.)

The document also reminds audit committees to do things that they often forget such a rigorously appraising their own performance and monitoring organisational culture and “tone from leadership”.

One thing that I would add as an eleventh thing to do is for audit committees to meet their auditors at least once a year without executive management being present. This may only take five minutes of a meeting but it is a vital way to get assurance.

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