Audit & Risk

You asked us

Our technical helpline provides valuable advice to members on a host of professional issues. Here are some of the questions you’ve recently asked.

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Q. Where an internal audit department consists of a head of internal audit (HIA) and one member of staff, who should review the work performed by the HIA? All work performed by the staff member is reviewed by the HIA before the reports are issued. 

A. We have produced some guidance giving tips to assist small internal audit activities to implement the Standards. The section on supervision – Standard 2300 performing audit engagements – gives some suggestions around this area as follows:
"In a small audit team where the HIA is performing internal audit engagements, independent review of work performed
is difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Where this is the case it is important to have a fully defined set of audit policies and procedures, including:

  • A clearly defined planning process to agree objectives and scope discussed and agreed with senior managers.
  • Clear statements about the work programme and evidence that is required to support audit engagements.
  • An experienced member of staff within the team to review the work of the HIA.
  • An agreement with a co-source provider periodically to undertake independent review of particular pieces of work, or a percentage of the total number in a given period.
  • Work with a mentor.
  • Peer review of the audit file by someone with audit or a related background external to the audit team."

The following link will take you to the guidance, which provides a summary of some of the issues small internal audit teams may face along with some tips and advice to guide you – www.iia.org.uk/smallteams

Q. I am HIA for a local authority. An independent member of the audit committee is now coming to the end of their second tenure (six years). I am taking a report for the committee to consider what to do next. Do you have any guidance/information on how many tenures are recommended in the public sector? 

A. IIA Global has produced a public sector insight document, "Independent Audit Committees in the Public Sector". On page 11 it says:

"It is important that audit committees maintain institutional memory while providing new perspectives and fresh insights. Audit committee members should, therefore, be appointed to terms long enough to maintain continuity, but not so long that an individual becomes vested in the organisation’s current policies and direction. Generally, terms less than two years are too short. Terms of greater than eight years may be too long. If length is restricted, terms should be staggered to achieve the greatest continuity. The audit committee chairman should review committee member performance annually to determine whether obligations are appropriately discharged." 

Appendix 1 offers a model public-sector audit committee charter. On page 25 under terms of office it says: "Terms of office for an audit committee member are a term of (number [typically three to four]) years. Independent members of the committee should not serve more than two terms. Continuance of audit committee members will be reviewed annually. To ensure continuity within the audit committee the appointment of members should be staggered."

f the audit committee is newly formed then in order to ensure continuity, corporate memory and a reasonable handover, it may be appropriate to stagger the period across the members, ie some members serving less than the maximum period.

Q. As holders of a professional qualification such as the CIA are we permitted to certify documents (such as passports) for their authenticity?

A. The government website www.gov.uk/certifying-a-document states: "To certify documents, ask a professional person or someone well-respected in your community ('of good standing’) such as a:

  • Bank or building society official.
  • Councillor.
  • Minister of religion.
  • Dentist.
  • Chartered accountant.
  • Solicitor or notary.
  • Teacher or lecturer.
The person you ask shouldn’t be:

  • Related to you.
  • Living at the same address.
  • In a relationship with you."
Therefore, a professional qualification such as the CIA should qualify you to certify, say, a passport, but check with the organisation that needs the certified copy – they may have specific rules about who can certify a document.

Got a question? Contact the Chartered IIA technical helpline on 0845 883 4739 or email technical@iia.org.uk

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