Thank you for joining us for our session on the relationship, which can sometimes be challenging, between the HIA and the Audit Committee Chair. In addition to our guest speakers we are also joined by Liz Sandwith, our Chief Professional Practices Advisor, Derek Jamieson, our Regional Director, and our chair Piyush Fatania, Head of Audit, Risk, Assurance and Insurance Services for Gloucestershire County Council, and member of the Institute’s Council.
Chair's opening comments
Welcome to our Local Authority Internal Audit Forum. This is an important topic. Following recent elections, many of us are working with new members of council and the audit committee. Our relationship with the audit committee chair is of paramount importance to internal audit.
David Hill, CEO, SWAP Internal Audit Services
Internal audit should understand that a good audit committee chair:
A question to ask is do we, as HIAs, want an effective audit committee chair?
The answer should be yes, but there are still some unfortunately who don’t seem to mind when the meetings are gentle and a tick in the box.
Extraordinary audit committee chairs have a keen sense for their role. They understand its strategic significance, and they invest ample time and energy to be the best they can be. This strategic approach includes an implicit commitment to continually growing in the position and seeking additional experience, knowledge, and skills. Today’s dynamic and volatile business environment demands business leaders continually reinvent themselves to be effective in their roles as board members and audit committee chairs. (extract of a SWAP blogpost)
Managing the expectations of how the audit committee chair and internal audit work together is important.
Neil Pitman, Head of Southern Internal Audit Partnership
A foundation block for a good relationship is focusing the audit committee chair to engage at the right level.
The audit committee must fully understand the role of internal audit.
Our member days where we bring people together from different LAs across the partnership are highly useful, engaging people in training, talking about what happens in other areas, networking and sharing good practice.
What might be the potential impact of the (Sir Tony) Redmond Report?
Speaker slides are available here.
Chair's closing comments
An interesting session about actively managing the relationship with the audit committee chair and critically understanding what internal audit does not do, as much as what it can do. Possibly audit committees have been backward looking which has led to them not being seen in the same way as other committees within a local authority. When you do get a good chair and members who are interested you get some really good debate, a good level of engagement and ultimately what we all want which is better internal control, better management of risk and a better chance of the authority achieving its objectives.
Click here to join us on 25 June for our free virtual Audit & Risk Awards ceremony.
Our next LA Forum meeting, 23 June 2021, will be on Inspirational Leadership in Internal Audit. It is often said that great leaders possess the capacity to follow so we look forward to you joining us and hearing from our guest speakers.
As always, if you have any ideas or suggestions for what we might include in future agendas, please contact Liz Sandwith on email at: email@example.com
Q How do you deal with the AC chair who is unclear about the role of IA but nevertheless demanding of IA?
A Patience and constant training. Those that think they know about IA require hard work on the part of the HIA, sometimes you might be on the same page but not realise. Annual training is not enough – at every meeting there is an opportunity to deliver something. Even something as simple as a session on the benefit of a one-page report.
Q How do we engage our ACs in taking the time for training?
A Make it exciting. The onus has to be on internal audit to make it interesting, sometimes even we can make things sound boring and IA is not boring.
Q Often the first audit committee can be a shock – do you enable your team to attend?
A Yes, they can see how their reports are received and the questions asked. They are also best placed to answer questions the detail.
A Agree, have also experienced push back from an AC chair as it being a waste of resource
A Yes, it’s good experience for members of the senior team in reporting writing/presentation and to answer questions on the detail of audits, important to brief the AC chair first so they understand rationale. We have also taken our apprentices to broaden their understanding.