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Synergies between the Internal Audit and Risk Management departments are of great importance

The need for synergies between the Internal Audit and Risk Management departments is of paramount importance to ensure that targeted controls are carried out and risks are properly managed in an organisation.

Internal Audit and Risk Management

In most companies, the internal audit departments are relatively small compared to the scale and complexity of the tasks they are expected to handle. This is particularly noticeable when considering the extensive scope of their audits. It's common to observe large companies, with significant staff numbers, substantial sales figures reaching hundreds of millions of euros, and numerous operational locations, employing only a small team of 1 to 3 individuals in their internal audit department. These auditors are tasked with applying rigorous auditing techniques to render an opinion on the accuracy of millions of transactions recorded in the financial statements for a given fiscal year, ensuring that no errors, omissions, or fraudulent activities have occurred. Unfortunately, there exists a widespread (albeit incorrect) perception that internal auditors function akin to law enforcement officers, expected to uncover every discrepancy and prevent any oversight.

Risk management and internal control are closely linked. Internal control informs risk management through the insights derived from audit findings, while risk management, in turn, provides crucial input by evaluating and assessing each risk's potential impact on the business and its likelihood of occurrence. Consequently, it's evident that the prioritization of internal audits should be primarily guided by a comprehensive assessment of individual risks and their collective impact.

The issues concerning the cooperation between the two departments are as follows:

Integrated risk assessment: by working closely together, the two departments are able to conduct a more comprehensive risk assessment that takes into account both internal and external factors affecting the organisation. This holistic approach allows them to identify and prioritise risks more effectively.

Risk mitigation strategies: Collaboration allows the two departments to develop customized risk mitigation strategies that align with the organization's risk objectives and risk appetite. By combining their expertise, they can identify control weaknesses and implement targeted controls to mitigate risks more effectively.

Enhanced monitoring and supervision: Synergies between the two departments facilitate continuous monitoring and oversight of key risks and controls. By sharing information and knowledge, they can proactively identify emerging risks and monitor the effectiveness of existing controls, allowing for timely intervention when necessary.

Efficient resource allocation: cooperation between the two departments helps to optimise the allocation of resources, avoiding duplication of efforts and ensuring that resources are allocated where they are most needed. This ensures that critical risks are adequately addressed and avoids unnecessary costs.

Improved communication and reporting: effective cooperation promotes clear communication and reporting on risk issues to senior management and the board. By presenting a single view of risks and controls, the two departments can facilitate informed decision-making and promote the need for accountability across the organisation.

Alignment: by working closely together, the two departments can help promote a general culture of risk awareness within the organisation. This includes promoting a common understanding of risk management principles and encouraging proactive efforts to identify and mitigate risks at all levels of the organization.

In summary, synergies between the internal audit and risk management departments are necessary to enable these departments to conduct comprehensive risk assessments, develop effective risk mitigation strategies, monitor key risks and controls, optimise resource allocation, improve communication and reporting, and promote a culture of risk awareness throughout the organisation.


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