Tag Archives: Governance & Risk Assurance

Covid-19 is having a big effect on internal auditing

..so it is important to go back to basics on reasonable assurance.

ACCA UK’s Internal Audit network panel regularly consults its members on topics that are of particular interest at a given point in time. At the moment, it is recognised that the impact of Covid-19 is having a big effect on internal auditing. We cannot afford gold-plated auditing or controls anymore. Also, we can’t afford to go through the motions of doing assignments that made sense at one point in time when things have changed significantly as a result of Covid-19.

I wrote an article for ACCA that looks at how to manage internal audit assignments from a practical perspective in the current context. Specifically, it looks at the work programmes required in the current environment where lean and agile auditing is increasingly expected. It also considers some fundamental questions about what we mean by reasonable assurance.

You can read it here

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Training & development online/ webinars

As we adjust to new ways of working I have been working with my friends in the IIA across Europe to deliver engaging webinars on a range of key topics.

Details of internal audit webinars are as follows:


  • Auditing culture – 9 June
  • Root cause analysis – 10 June
  • Lean and agile audit in the COVID era – 15 June
  • Urgent responses to Covid 19 – 16 June
  • Managing yourself and others in challenging times – 18 June
  • Assurance mapping – 23 June
  • Heads of internal audit – induction masterclass – 24-25 June


  • Assurance over GRC – PM 26th May and AM 27th May
  • Lean and Agile Auditing – PM 27th May and AM 28th May
  • Root Cause Analysis – PM 28th May and AM 29th May

IIA Finland:

  • Auditing Culture – PM 1st June and AM 2nd June
  • Assurance Mapping – PM 11th June and AM 12th June

IIA Norway:

  • Lean and Agile Audit in the Covid Era – PM 2nd June and AM 3rd June
  • Assurance Mapping – PM 3rd June and AM 4th June

Timings for split sessions are as follows:
Morning sessions are 09.00 to 12.15 local time
Afternoon sessions are 13.00 to 16.30 local time

E-mail info@RiskAI.co.uk for more information, including tailored training on other topics.

Hope you can join me…

Corporate Governance Theatre: Risk culture, plausible deniability and wilful blindness

Very pleased to have been asked by the ACCA to write an article on ‘Corporate Governance Theatre: Risk culture, plausible deniability and wilful blindness’.

An overview follows immediately below, after which is a link to the full article on the ACCA’s website.

Background and introduction

My role as a consultant is to work closely with clients on governance, risk, compliance (GRC) and assurance challenges. Our aim is to ensure GRC improvements are genuinely welcomed and used by business managers, alongside risk, compliance and audit professionals; balancing rigour with pragmatism and cultural fit.
Earlier in 2018, I wrote an article on why we continue to get GRC and assurance surprises of some magnitude, despite management assurances and auditor sign offs. My perspective is that too often we have ‘corporate governance theatre’. Things look good in many ways, but – just below the surface – there are ‘hairline cracks’ that are missed by management, boards and even auditors and regulators, until it is too late.

After writing this article, I was happy to be asked by ACCA to write an article on risk culture – including ‘plausible deniability’ and ‘wilful blindness’, which are part of the theatre problem – and here this article:

  • provides an overview of plausible deniability, wilful blindness and associated phenomena
  • how and why these behaviours arise
  • warning signs to watch out for
  • practical steps in the context of GRC to make meaningful progress.

Note that, in my experience, progress is not about implementing new systems (though these may help), but rather by looking at what is currently being done from a different angle, with the objective of ‘getting real’ about the issues, and potential gaps, that matter the most.

Read the full article here

Not as straightforward as it seems – Adding value – Assurance maps

I ran a workshop in London over the past two days on the topic of Assurance Maps. Readers will not be surprised to learn that one of the key ingredients for a successful Assurance Map is to be clear about the added value that managers and senior managers will derive from the exercise (often board and audit committee members recognise that an assurance map will help “join up the jigsaw” of assurance efforts, and therefore tend to be supportive).

At face value this may seem to be a straightforward matter – if the board and audit committee can be persuaded support an assurance map, would it really matter if managers and senior managers were not that enthusiastic? In my experience working on assurance mapping efforts for the past 15 years, this is an important question, because there is a big difference between managers and senior managers tolerating an assurance map, but not seeing much benefit in what it gives; compared to them seeing it as a useful management tool that will help them manage aspects of their organisation. Clearly, in the latter case, you are much more likely to get ongoing interest in, and support for, further development of assurance maps from management; rather than them seeing an assurance map as a one-off activity that should be completed and then shelved.

What follows is a summary of our discussions. As you will see, the key message is the importance of being focused, specific and realistic about the added value goals being sought, and the need to think ahead, and manage proactively, how this added value might unfold (or not!). Continue Reading

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