Get a grip on internal controls

“Internal controls” is commonly-used terminology in today’s skeptical business environment. Everyone wants them, but many are lacking.

Borrowers with weak internal controls expose you to greater risk of fraud and misstatement than those with solid internal controls. So, understanding your borrowers’ control systems is an important part of loan due diligence.

Master the basics

Internal controls are processes set forth by an entity’s board of directors, management, and other personnel. According to the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), controls should be “designed to provide reasonable assurance [of] the achievement of objectives in the effectiveness and efficiency of operations, reliability of financial reporting, and compliance with laws and regulations.”

COSO lists five components of internal controls:

  1. Control
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    environment. Environmental factors include the integrity, ethical values, management operating style and delegation of authority systems. The “tone at the top” is a fundamental building block for all other control components.

  2. Risk assessment. Companies should be aware of relevant risks and decide on the best ways to manage them.
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    Information and communication. Enabling employees to fulfill their responsibilities, these systems and processes identify, capture and exchange information. Effective communication ensures information flows down, across, up and outside the

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  4. Control activities. These are the policies and procedures that ensure management’s directives are carried out. Examples of control activities are authorization of transactions, accounting reconciliations, supervisory reviews of operating performance, physical security of assets, and segregation of duties.
  5. Monitoring. Companies should continually review and improve internal control performance.

Managers and internal auditors viagra where do i get it should assess whether internal controls are adequate and explore ways to improve controls. AICPA auditing standards also require external auditors to evaluate their client’s internal controls as part of their audit risk assessment procedures. Auditors tailor audit programs for potential risks of material misstatement, but they aren’t required to specifically perform procedures to identify control deficiencies — unless the client hires them to perform a separate internal control study.

Obtain management letters

The simplest way for lenders to

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identify internal control problems is to have management letters for every loan file. They provide constructive criticism of a borrower’s control systems from the perspective of an independent third party.

Specifically, Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 115, Communicating Internal Control Related Matters Identified in an Audit, requires auditors to consider whether controls are sufficient to prevent and detect financial statement misstatements or theft of company assets, as well as whether they enable management to correct misstatements in a timely manner. SAS 115 requires auditors to report otc viagra any material weaknesses and significant deficiencies (see the sidebar “Which deficiencies make it to the management letter?”), including those remedied during canadianpharmacy4bestlife the audit.

Internal controls have been top of mind with auditors since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed in 2002. Today, management letters are more in-depth and helpful to financial statement readers.


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disclose findings from prior periods that have yet to be remedied by management. If they continually report the same deficiencies from pharmacy ontario canada year to year, lenders should ask why management is reluctant to resolve deficiencies in their controls. Some gaps may seem

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minor — separating billing and cash receipts in a small family business, for example. But other gaps may put you at excessive risk.

Ideally, a management letter should accompany a borrower’s financial statements in an audit, but SAS 115 allows auditors 60 days from the audit report release date to compile their findings. If the management letter has been omitted from a borrower’s financial statements, ask for a copy as soon as it’s available.

Think like an auditor

Sometimes lenders have to think like auditors. This mindset can help you assess risk factors that could lead to delinquent payments and loan defaults. Internal controls are a big part of an auditor’s risk assessment. A solid canada pharmacy

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system of internal controls can ensure that your borrowers prevent, detect and correct financial misstatements. Weak controls can result in costly theft or embezzlement,

misstatements and errors.

Sidebar: Which deficiencies make it to the management letter?

Under SAS 115, management letters must identify “material weaknesses” and “significant deficiencies” in internal controls discovered during audit procedures.

The more egregious of the two shortcomings, order cialis “material weakness”, refers to “a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control, such that there is a reasonable possibility

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that a material misstatement of the entity’s financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected on a timely basis.”

A significant deficiency is “less severe than a material weakness, yet important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance.” Note that a control deficiency is dependent on the potential for misstatement; misstatement need not actually bb online pharmacy have occurred.

SAS 115 permits significant leeway in how auditors classify internal control weaknesses, such as lack of segregation of duties, inadequately

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trained accounting personnel, restated prior period financial statements, and material audit adjustments.

When classifying deficiencies as material or significant, auditors evaluate the probability and magnitude of the potential misstatement. They also consider “compensating controls,” which are substitute procedures that limit the potential of a deficiency to result in an actual misstatement.

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