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Redundancy December 29, 2009

Posted by Audit Monkey in The Joy & Pain of Internal Audit.

With the New Year rapidly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to comment on my own redundancy sooner rather than later, the logic being it is probably best consigned to 2009 and forgotten about. Don’t take my word for it, Her Majesty The Queen commented in her annual Christmas address to the Nation that some years are best forgotten.

First some background. The Head of Audit who employed me, resigned and initially, his No.2 (Biggins) acted up. Unfortunately Biggins did not bank on the Old Boy network and cronyism as a Board Director brought in a replacement Head of (in the shape of the Führer) from his previous firm.

It is inevitable that a new Head of Audit will wish to change things but it is not helpful to add grist to the mill. Some pitfalls which contributed to my selection for redundancy:

Black Mark 1. Mickey Mouse Reporting – I think the Führer was unimpressed by some of our reports and with good grounds. Our reports started to contain far too much detail in terms of audit findings when examples would have been sufficient. The reports then went on to spell out in chapter and verse how the auditees should do the job. No one at senior level is likely to wade through pages of regurgitated audit findings as all they want is a synopsis and information how best to fix the mess asap.

Black Mark 2. Big 4 Secondees – Biggins engaged a Big 4 Secondee for some specific audit work. Unfortunately in keeping with most Big 4 bods of a certain level, our Secondee couldn’t deliver the goods. I think this is due to inexperience and reluctance to articulate an opinion on the process being audited without sanction from above. Unfortunately Biggins never gave the Secondee the golden words (‘good-bye’ if you were wondering) or voiced his immediate concerns to the relevant Partner with sufficient urgency. However, if you get outside audit help in, this highlights that the existing team has not got the prerequisite skills to do the job.

The Führer subsequently arranged for a replacement Big 4 Senior to come in. Unfortunately for us we got a workaholic who made the rest of us look like slackers in comparison. However, if we wanted to work to silly o’clock, we would have elected to work for a Big 4 firm, not in commerce!

Black Mark 3.Errors That Come Back to Haunt – So far you may have gathered that the above has nothing to do with me. Unfortunately for me, I missed an item on one of my audit reviews which reared it’s ugly head just as the audit was being finalised. In short, the auditees had suppressed material operational errors which should have been disclosed. I’m not one for making excuses, I should take the rap and I should have asked the question “is there anything you wish to tell me?” at some point. Inevitably mud sticks and I suspect the Führer was none too impressed despite his reassurances otherwise and no doubt this featured in the redundancy assessment.

However, what I found galling is the lack of support during that particular review, one from the local auditor who didn’t want to get their hands dirty by doing some work and wished to distance themselves from audit and the report which may have tarnished local friendships with the auditees. Second, from ‘Helga’, my supervisor who made persistent ‘interventionist’ telephone calls to me during the course of review rather than allowing me to get on with it, which would have maintained my clarity of thought and concentration. By all means, focus on the content of the work but remember when the auditor is on-site, it is a touch late in the day.

I’m going to conclude here but somehow I can’t help thinking I had my goose cooked for me (no Christmas pun intended).


1. ITaudit - December 31, 2009

Regarding your statement:
“However, if you get outside audit help in, this highlights that the existing team has not got the prerequisite skills to do the job.”

I’d agree that most of the time this is true, but sometimes the department doesn’t have the bandwidth due to staff illness, vacation/holiday, or they are engaged elsewhere.

But most of the time, your point is well taken.

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