Archive for the ‘Audit’ Category

Trust but Verify: The Power of Skepticism in the Boardroom

October 25th, 2013 | By

Bribery and corruption risk continue to be big issues for companies—especially with the increasing number of reported incidents and regulatory enforcements in recent years. This panel of audit, legal, and governance experts discussed cultural factors that can breed fraud, and they also discussed what directors should know about combatting fraud. The experts outlined steps that boards can take in their oversight role, as well as the importance of that role in transactions.

Highlights:
1. Tone at the top is paramount. The CEO sets the tone for the company, and the board should be aware of the specific tone that has been set. Directors should attend management meetings from time to time, make note of any problem areas, and reiterate to the company that the board is watching. The ethics and compliance leader should report to the board periodically, as well. Sometimes, the presence of the general counsel at a meeting can help deter fraud.

2. The internal audit and compliance teams need to coordinate on who will be covering which issues. This is not to make them competitive with one another, but instead will help ensure efficient and complete coverage.

3. Boards need enough time to give ample consideration to significant transactions. For example, does a transaction fit in with the strategic direction the company wants to take? Boards should have a similar thinking in regard to the divestment of current business, and must be fearless in exercising responsibility in this area.

Speakers:
Andrea Bonime-Blanc
CEO and Founder, GEC Risk Advisory LLC

Cynthia Fornelli
Executive Director, Center for Audit Quality

Michele J. Hooper
President and CEO, The Directors’ Council

Vikramaditya Khanna
Professor, University of Michigan Law School; Director, Directors’ College for Global Business and Law, University of Michigan

This summary provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In Conversation with Laban Jackson

October 13th, 2013 | By

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has frequently made headlines since news of the London Whale broke. In a candid interview with Jeffrey M. Cunningham, managing director and senior advisor of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), Director and Audit Chairman Laban Jackson shares how the company is navigating current challenges and preparing for future ones.

The London Whale Investigation

Jackson noted that one of the root causes of the London Whale was tied to culture. “The culture totally broke down,” he explained. “The real culture at JPMorgan–or at any great company–is if you have a problem and you raise your hand, it becomes everyone’s problem. If you don’t raise your hand, it’s your problem.”

On CEO Jamie Dimon

“Jamie Dimon is the best manager I’ve ever seen, and I’m old,” Jackson said. “He has absolute integrity.” Jackson went on to note that Dimon is human and has flaws as every human being does.

“One thing to do as a director–and I didn’t learn this early enough–the first job you have is to get the CEO right. The second is to get the next CEO right,” Jackson explained. “But while you have that CEO, figure out his or her flaws and help them with them.”

Ramifications of the London Whale

The board fired five people and clawed back $100 million and cut the CFO and CEO salaries in half. “We wanted to get the respect back of the people at the company,” Jackson said.

When asked by the Council of Institutional Investors if JPMorgan had done enough, “We said well, we can’t shoot ‘em,” Jackson said.

Big Enough to Succeed?

In a business where the motto is often “go big or go home,” laws and regulation play key roles in ensuring companies are operating in an effective manner. Some regulations, however, may be difficult for companies that do not have the same scale as JPMorgan to comply with.

“We move trillions [of dollars] a day in and out of JPMorgan in 156 countries,” Jackson said. “I don’t know many companies that can do that. If big banks are broken up, I don’t know who can do this.”

Around the World

Jackson spends several weeks a year visiting JPMorgan offices across the globe and meeting with regulators. He notes that he has started meeting with up-and-coming JPMorgan employees: “I learn so much from them–it has been a wonderful thing for me.”

Key Insights From the Audit Committee Chair Advisory Council

August 1st, 2013 | By

On June 19, NACD and partners KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute (ACI) and Sidley Austin LLP co-hosted the most recent meeting of the Audit Committee Chair Advisory Council, bringing together audit committee chairs from major U.S. corporations, key regulators and standard setters from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and other audit experts for an open dialogue on the key issues and challenges impacting the audit committee agenda.

As detailed in the summary of proceedings, the forum provided timely insights into a number of issues that are top of mind for audit committees. Key insights from the dialogue include:

  • As the PCAOB continues to focus on enhancing auditor independence, skepticism, and objectivity, audit committees are wrestling with how to make the best use of PCAOB inspection reports, with some questioning the timeliness and relevance of the reports and the use of the term “audit failure.”
  • Audit committees continue to discuss the potential value of more robust reporting from the audit committee and external auditors to provide greater insight into their work. Most delegates agreed that the auditor’s statement is the right area of focus.
  • Companies should be preparing for the impact of FASB’s “big four” convergence projects—revenue recognition, leases, financial instruments, and insurance contracts—with a particular focus on the lead time IT departments will need to implement systems changes.
  • Under new leadership, the SEC is refocusing on corporate accounting fraud and the quality of financial disclosures, while moving ahead with its already heavy rule-making agenda resulting from Dodd-Frank mandates and the JOBS Act.
  • The allocation of risk oversight duties among the audit committee, full board, and other board committees is receiving increased attention, as the risk environment becomes more complex and audit committees reassess their risk oversight responsibilities.
  • In their oversight role, directors serve in a part-time capacity, while management is full time, resulting in executives having a much deeper knowledge of the operational aspects and risks of the company. To overcome this inherent imbalance, directors should apply a “healthy” level of skepticism to the information and assumptions management provides.
  • The audit committee’s effectiveness hinges not only on having the right mix of skills and backgrounds, but also having a robust onboarding process and commitment to continuing director education.

For the full day’s discussion and proposed council action items, click here to read the summary of proceedings.