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Red Flag Reporting - Organizational Level Controls

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Smith & Howard - Red Flag Reporting - Organizational Level Controls

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Red Flag Reporting - Organizational Level Controls

  1. 1. Organizational Level Controls
  2. 2. Components of Internal Control • COSO sets forth five components of internal control: – Control Environment – Risk Assessment – Control Activities – Information and Communication – Monitoring
  3. 3. Components of Internal Control (continued) Two types of Controls: • Organizational Level Controls (Focus of this Presentation) • Functional Level Controls COSO Component Primary Level of Application Organizational Level Functional Level Control Environment X Risk Assessment X Information and X Communication (Communication) X (Information Systems) Control Activities X Monitoring X
  4. 4. Control Environment • Sets the Organization’s Tone • Most Cost Effective and Efficient way to Implement Internal Control • Effects all Other Aspects of Internal Control • Control Environment Factors Include the Following Principles: – Integrity and ethical values, commitment to competence, oversight by board or audit committee, management’s philosophy and operating style, organizational structure, manner of assigning authority and responsibility, HR policies and procedures. • Hard Controls vs. Soft Controls
  5. 5. Integrity and Ethical Values • Management’s Integrity Plays a Significant Role in “Setting the Tone at the Top” • Challenges Faced when Establishing Ethical Values: – Balancing the Issues and Concerns of Various Parties – Assigning Prominence to High Ethical Behavior within the Organization – Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
  6. 6. Commitment to Competence • Employee Competence is Critical to an Organization’s Control Environment – Otherwise, Employees May Not Follow Policies – Internal Control Effectiveness would be Impaired • Competence Levels Required are Determined by Management. – Implemented by hiring decisions, training – Competence comes with cost – Jobs with less supervision require more Competence
  7. 7. Board of Directors / Audit Committee • Their Existence Plays a Role in Setting Tone at the Top • Board and Audit Committee Should Consist of Executives Outside the Company – Outsiders are Less Likely to be Influenced by Management • Audit Committee Should Oversee: – Internal Controls over Financial Reporting – Fraud Risks Identified by Management – Implementation of Anti-Fraud Measures – Creation of Appropriate Tone at the Top – Consideration of Management Override of Controls
  8. 8. The Audit Committee Should… • Exercise Appropriate Skepticism • Have Knowledge of the Business and Industry • Brainstorm Possible Fraud Risks • Assess Tone at the Top via the Code of Conduct • Use an Effective Whistleblower Program (including a fraud hotline) • Develop an Effective Information and Feedback Network
  9. 9. Management’s Philosophy and Operating Style • Management Style: Formal vs. Informal – Organizations with a formal management style generally have more structured policies and procedures in place. – Organizations with an informal management style use personal contact with supervisors as a control function instead of written policies and procedures. • Management’s Philosophy and Operating Style Determine Acceptable Behavior and Expectations for Each Employee – An effective antifraud environment is created with a strong value system founded on integrity. – Proper examples set by management resonate through the business
  10. 10. Organizational Structure • Organizational Structure: – “Provides the framework within which its activities for achieving entity-wide objectives are planned, controlled, and monitored.” – Types of structures include: Centralized, decentralized, matrix reporting relationships, direct reporting relationships. – Can be organized by: Product line, industry, geographic location, distribution network, marketing network, function. – Issues to consider when establishing appropriate organizational structure are how: Areas of authority are defined, appropriate responsibilities are assigned, appropriate lines or reporting are established.
  11. 11. Assignment of Authority and Responsibility • Determined by Management – Segregation of Duties should be Considered – Delegating authority to those closest to the transaction facilitates timely decision-making. However, raises the risk of poor decisions. • Other Factors Affecting how Organizations Delegate Responsibilities include: – Organizational structure, competence, accountability, monitoring.
  12. 12. Assignment of Authority and Responsibility (Continued) • Considerations for assignment of authority and responsibility related to financial reporting include: – Appropriateness of authority and responsibility to meet required objectives – Policies that prevent unauthorized access – Assignments of authorization is assigned at appropriate levels
  13. 13. Human Resource Policies and Procedures • HR Policies and Procedures enable and reinforce other aspects of the control environment. – Includes an organization’s practices relating to: hiring, orientation, training, evaluating, counseling, promoting, compensating, and remedial actions.
  14. 14. Special Considerations for Small and Mid-sized Businesses • Nature and Size of the Business • Organization and Ownership Characteristics • Diversity and Complexity of Operations • Methods for Processing Financial Information • Legal and Regulatory Requirements
  15. 15. Challenges for Smaller Businesses in Implementing Internal Controls • Management Influence – Potential for management override of controls is greater with smaller companies. • Segregation of Duties – This is often difficult with smaller companies since there are less employees to split tasks with. • Qualified Accounting Personnel – Smaller companies may not have the resources to hire accounting personnel with the appropriate technical skills.
  16. 16. Challenges for Smaller Businesses in Implementing Internal Controls (Continued) • Board of Directors and Audit Committee – Smaller companies may not have the resources to attract a qualified board of directors. • Information Technology – It may not make financial sense for a smaller company to have an expensive ERP system with robust controls.
  17. 17. Managing Change – Potential Changes with Significant Impact • Changes in the Organization’s Operating Environment – Management implements changes that result in additional risks – Competitive pressures affect marketing or production strategies – Deregulation affects competition and cost structures • New Personnel May: – Not have proper understanding of control – Not understand the corporate culture – Emphasize performance over control activities – Not have the training and supervision necessary for controls to operate • New or Revised Information Systems – Time and cost constraints, and other issues on implementation – Lack of training and lack of new controls related to new system
  18. 18. Managing Change – Potential Changes with Significant Impact (Continued) • Rapid Growth within the Organization – May strain existing systems and personnel – Shifting responsibilities – More focused on results than on controls • New Technology – New or modified controls need to be implemented to address new technology – Personnel may require training on use of new technology • New Business Models, Products, or Activities – Personnel may be unfamiliar of new business models, products, and activities – Existing controls may not address new areas
  19. 19. Managing Change – Potential Changes with Significant Impact (Continued) • Restructuring Within the Organization May Result In: – Staff reductions, inadequate supervision, inadequate separation of duties, reassignment of personnel and new duties • Expanded Foreign Operations – Culture and customs of foreign country may different – Economic and regulatory environment may be different • Adaption of New Accounting Principles – Unfamiliar with new requirements – New requirements may affect a variety of accounts and transactions – Complex requirements may require study and analysis to ensure provisions are applied properly – Presentation and disclosure issues
  20. 20. Communication • Communication of expectations, responsibilities, and other matters is necessary for the business to operate effectively • Internal Communication- It is important that management communicates: – The importance of internal control – Internal control responsibilities – That unexpected events should be investigated – How job activities relate to the work of others
  21. 21. Communication (Continued) • Importance of Upstream Communication – Information flowing from bottom to top – Significant operating issues are typically identified by people close to the transaction – Sales representatives may learn new way to give company products an edge – Personnel may be aware of ways to cut costs – Finance employees may be aware of misstatements
  22. 22. Communication (Continued) • For upstream communication to occur, open channels must be available • Management should communicate key issues to the board
  23. 23. Communication (Continued) • External Communication – Communication with companies doing business with the organization – Communication with independent auditors – Communication with regulators – Communication with shareholders
  24. 24. Monitoring • Monitoring can be accomplished through: – Ongoing Activities • Comparisons • Reconciliations • Internal and External Audit • Regulators • Vendors & Customers – Separate Evaluations – A Combination of the Two
  25. 25. Questions?
  26. 26. Thank You! Please call Debbie Risher or Marvin Willis at Smith & Howard with questions. 404-874-6244 www.smith-howard.com drisher@smith-howard.com

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