The Career Undertow

If you have ever swam in the ocean and had the miss-fortune to get caught in an undertow, you know those brief and scary moments where you mind is racing, your body is searching for the right direction to swim and your lungs begin to feel like they will burst.  Then there is that moment of calmness when you allow yourself to give in to the wave, seemingly like you have given up.  But oddly enough, in that moment there is clarity and sometimes your mind and body react with the proper actions and you are able to recover from the scary incident. You may have experienced something like this in another way also. It can be described as the Read More

What Really Causes Corruption?  It may surprise you.

I was recently asked to write a book on Global Corruption for Auerbach Publishing.  I am thrilled at the opportunity to share my global experience with other auditors, however while developing the outline I have been spending much time considering the difference between government corruption and corruption in corporations.  The more I think about it, the clearer the answer becomes: There is no difference. While I have spent the vast majority of my career in large corporations and have only a sprinkling of government in my background, almost all of the corruption I have encountered around the world involved a government official or entity. Which makes it almost impossible to avoid coming to the conclusion that corrupt governments are to Read More

Critique with Etiquette

At some point in every professional’s career they will have the opportunity to critique some element of work. As with any new experience there can be a learning curve to effectively delivering critique. Most often the manner in which that critique is phrased, worded or delivered may impact how it is received. As a supervisor tasked with providing personnel evaluations to employees, you quickly learn that the manner in which you relay improvement opportunities can impact the overall outcome of the message. Assuming you are focused on assisting the professional in improving their skills, the message may be more successful when delivered in a constructive, coaching atmosphere rather than reprimanding or confrontational.  Similarly, if you’ve had the opportunity to provide Read More

Rewriting Revenue Recognition

Have you heard about the new revenue recognition standard (ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers and IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers)?  You probably have, but even if you have heard about it and read a few articles or white papers, chances are you aren’t certain what it means for your company.  If that’s the case, you are not alone.  In my conversations with controllers and auditors over the past several months, it’s clear that very few feel prepared for the new standard. At a high level, the goal of the new standard is to bring GAAP and IFRS into alignment with each other; remove inconsistencies in existing revenue requirements; improve comparability across entities, industries and capital markets; Read More

Leveraging Internal Audit Data Analytics in Unusual Places: Acquisitions

During the due diligence for an acquisition target, Internal Audit was invited to participate in the due diligence. We needed to perform a financial and operation audit as the target not publically traded and the executives felt we needed our own independent verification of the financial information being provided to us. Additionally, the board wanted an estimated budget for getting the acquisition target – a private company – Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliant.   As a CISA and member of the corporate audit team I was asked to provide some guidance for IT SOX controls.  It was my first acquisition due diligence, so while I was a bit hesitant I was very excited to experience something new. Once onsite at the target company Read More

Becoming a Superhero – Moving Beyond AP & Payroll with Data Analytics

Most internal audit departments buy ACL, IDEA or Arbutus with the idea that auditing will become faster, easier and more accurate instantly. That hardly ever happens.  Instead most groups find the process of implementing data analytics to be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Quite frequently departments turn to their analytics tool provider for ready-made solutions in order to have some immediate success. The tool providers are happy to sell pre-packed solutions to help get the process started. These pre-packaged solutions usually focus on Accounts Payable, Payroll and General Ledger analytics. Unfortunately for most departments that is where the data analytics program tends to get stuck. The first few months with the new scripts for Accounts Payable, Payroll and General Ledger Read More

The Empower Audit team is once again recognized as authorities and pioneers in Data Analytics

Empower Audit is raising the bar on Data Analytics.  Not only are we recognized as authorities, but we are pioneers reinventing and creating new ways to use Data Analytics. Are you using Data Analytics?  Do you feel like a data superhero?  Do you feel like you have maxed out?  Do you want to go beyond AP and Payroll? The IIA and ISACA have asked us to lead a session to show people how to revolutionize risk and control management.  Keith Barber and I will be leading the session at the IIA/ISACA GRC Conference in Phoenix, Arizona in August. During my career as a CAE, I developed plans to revolutionize how Data Analytics could be used.  Partnering with Keith Barber, who is Read More

When the Authorities Just Aren’t Interested

Sometimes stopping the fraud and terminating the employee are all you can do.  What do you do when the authorities are not interested in criminally prosecuting your internal fraud? One of the easiest fraud cases I ever worked was also one of the most frustrating.  My team and I did good solid work and had iron-clad evidence, but we couldn’t convince the local authorities to do anything with the information. Unfortunately, it was one of those scenarios where the executives really wanted to prosecute and make a clear example of the situation. As the chief audit executive, I reported to the general counsel for my organization.  It was a great arrangement in my opinion, and I enjoyed working for him.  Read More

Women battling the good ole boys

A woman’s place in the workforce has evolved over the past thirty plus years. What hasn’t changed is the existence of the “good ole’ boys club” and the challenges women face navigating those waters.  Organizations often maintain these “clubs” don’t exist. In reality there are many more inside clubs than we any would like to believe. For women, the phenomenon creates additional challenges. If you question this concept, consider a few recent statistics released by the Center of American Progress. Women comprise 50.8% of the US population while earning almost 60% of undergraduate as well as master’s degrees. In addition women represent most 47% of the US Workforce. Women represent 14.6% of executive officers, 8.1% of top earners and 4.6% of Read More

World View for Internal Audit: China

Just this past week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) resolved a long-standing dispute with the Chinese affiliates of the Big-4 Accounting Firms (KPMG, E&Y, PwC, and Deloitte) over their refusal to provide audit workpapers and supporting documents of US subsidiaries based in China. Part of the argument from the Chinese side is that these documents are considered “state secrets”. Really? What isn’t considered a “state secret” in China may be the better or more appropriate question? Lately it appears that just about everything under the sun qualifies as “state secrets” or falls under some other “protected class” that restricts how you can deal with it and limits your options in the second largest economy on the planet. While Read More

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