2014: Your Year to Become a Better Writer. February 20, 2014. Presenters. Shalene Jacobson Director, Risk Advisory Services McGladrey LLP Dallas, Texas [email protected] 972.764.7019 Jana Larsen
February 20, 2014
This presentation should help you to:
“In my opinion, the problem is…”
“Employees don’t follow policies, which…”
“Clearly, management doesn’t understand…”
“Two of 30 items sampleddid not…”
“There are no written policies for X,Y, and Z…”
“Managementreports do not include A and B, which…”
Avoid Subjective and Emotive writing
Strive to use Objective and Unbiased writing
We should be as specific as possible in writing our reports. Instead of using the term ‘all’, we should include population and sample sizes
Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the 10 things, tell us about the 10 books or 10 strategies. Specificity makes for better writing
Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: "I promised I would leave by noon,” I picked up a ball,” or "I woke up today," for example
Think of the ways we use the word "got" in conversation: "I've got to go," "I got a ball," or "I got up this morning." Though it's fine for conversation, in writing, "got" misses valuable opportunities.
“Just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely effects the meaning, but rather, tightens a sentence
Using the word "really“ and “very” are examples of writing the way you talk. It's a verbal emphasis that doesn't translate perfectly into text
Do you want your audience to think you're uncertain about what you're saying? When you use words like "maybe" and "perhaps," uncertainty is exactly what you're communicating
We can rarely ‘ensure’ anything. As auditors, we can only provide reasonable assurance.
State the FACTS
Describe the RISK(S) (Why should they care?)
Recommend a SOLUTION to reduce/mitigate the risk
Not describing the issue
Not describing the risk
Information overload (data dumping)
Implying you tested or found items you didn’t
Exaggerating the importance of a fact or finding
Downplay the importance of a fact or finding
While money order and cashier’s check logs are maintained, these logs are not always complete at three of five branches visited. The logs were consistently missing dual control signatures, as well as the date, customer, account information, and face amount of the item issued.
For more accurate inventory records and to fully document the issuance of cashier’s checks and money orders in accordance with Bank policy, we recommend that the money order and cashier’s check logs be fully completed each time an instrument is issued.
During our review of monetary instruments at the Main Street branch, we located a supply of loan checks that are no longer used by the branch and should no longer be in their inventory.
For more accurate inventory and to reduce the risk of inappropriate or unauthorized use of loan checks, we recommend the Bank properly dispose of any unused monetary items from branch locations.
Commission calculations are completed by manually entering figures into Excel. A second review of the Excel calculations is not completed and spreadsheet security controls are not used.
To ensure that commission calculations are correct, we recommend that the figures entered and formulas used be reviewed by a second person. Management may also consider using spreadsheet security controls such as locking down cells with formulas in them.
A formal system access review for AP Pro has not been recently performed.
To ensure that user access to AP Pro is appropriate and provides for segregation of duties, we recommend performing a system access review as soon as possible and then on a periodic basis after that.
Management’s responses sometimes present additional facts or uncover mitigating controls that we were not previously aware of. Therefore, while in draft, we are open to further discussion and updating of the report observations and recommendations if new information becomes available.
On the other hand, we attempt through conversations with process owners and in closing meetings to discuss the risks that were identified and come to an agreement that there are indeed risks (from an audit committee or company-wide perspective) and what a good solution might be for both the audit committee and for management.
It is important for management to acknowledge that there is some risk that an error or fraud is possible (by process owner or others, depending on the situation) and to present an agreeable solution to the audit committee.
Refer to handout for background information and the report observation example
Refer to handout for background information
Communications and reports should be:
Know your audience and users
3 step program:
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