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Profession

Are you aware of internal audit?

This month, the IIA has been promoting May as International Internal Audit Awareness Month.

I’m conflicted, because as an internal auditor, I favour people being aware that my job exists. On the other hand, it has always seemed a little silly, or maybe crass even.

Another word that comes to mind is tone-deaf. Don’t we generally recognize awareness months for diseases or good causes or peoples’ heritages?

For instance, Wikipedia helpfully lists diseases or causes that are competing with internal audit for your awareness this month. Just a few:

  • Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Lyme Disease
  • Guide Dogs

In Canada, various groups are trying to raise awareness for:

  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Food Allergies

Maybe some might consider being audited akin to having a disease, but should the IIA be inviting the comparison?

There’s a hashtag, #IIAMay. On top of that, there’s a logo which proclaims to all: Proud to be an Internal Auditor. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Look, I get it. Internal audit isn’t as well known as practitioners would like. They’re building a business here, the IIA, and trying to grow demand for the services of their members, and their influence in management circles. But that’s the type of thing that’s best accomplished within organizations, by bringing your A game consistently and effectively as an auditor and a function.

Happy End of Internal Audit Awareness Month everyone!

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Profession

Feeling bloody young

A couple letters to the editor of CPA Magazine in this month’s issue made me feel so young again:

I’m can only guess at what you were thinking, putting “It really is a bloody big deal” on the April cover. Were you trying to be hip, or edgy? CPAs are professionals and the magazine should present a professional image. It doesn’t have to be stodgy, by any means. Certainly language evolves, as does what is considered acceptable use of it in various settings.

However your choice comes across as rather juvenile and ill-mannered.

And this:

Just saw the April issue, lots of good content. But I do think you could have used less offensive language on the front cover i.e. “It really is a _______ big deal.” A little more professionalism would be appreciated by your readers, even though the majority may not offer such feedback.

Arnold Hughes and Lino DeFacendis, respectively, letting everyone know how out of touch they are.

The headline was aping the marketing campaign that accompanied the signing of Jermain Defoe by Toronto FC this offseason, which made use of the (apparently offensive) word ‘bloody‘.

The story was about MLSE President Tim Leiweke, who has arrived on the Toronto sports scene to much fanfare and, dare I say it, hope for better days ahead. For some reason the article is not online, or I’d link to it.

Anyway, folks oughta lighten up.

Categories
Profession

Return of the Jedi (auditor)

Sometimes, people make mistakes. Recognizing when it happens and moving decisively to fix the situation is an important life skill, I think.

Three years ago, I left a building materials company to start work for a Canadian retail company. At the time, I thought it was a good move for my career. The Canadian retailer was based in Toronto and I thought there would be opportunities to move up or laterally. I assumed that the culture, at least within the internal audit department, would be similar to the team I was leaving.

I was wrong. The culture of the department, and the company, was very different. I think it has something to do with the industry, and probably the centralized structure. But whatever it was and in what proportions, it wasn’t a place where I felt like I fit in.

This is why pencils have erasers, people. Back in August, I returned to the building materials company and the first internal audit team I ever knew. And so far, it’s been like I never left.

Let this be a lesson to never burn your bridges! I kept in touch with several colleagues via email and Facebook over the years, and when I finally decided to go for it, they were able to refer me to the relevant people who could get the ball rolling.

So, in conclusion, you can go home again. And I did.

12/19/13 Update: HBR says Never Say Goodbye to a Great Employee!

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Profession

CFOs crave soft skills, but aren’t providing training

I caught the following tweet recently, and it reminded me of my most recent blog post on a survey that found finance people lacking in “value creation” skills:

The tweet links to a story that is based on a survey conducted by Robert Half. Here’s the actual survey release.

The first thing you notice is three out of ten say a lack of soft skills is the biggest factor holding back finance professionals from advancement. Okay, that makes sense.

Strangely the next question asks where training is planned, but apparently only allowed one answer. It really should’ve allowed more, because companies can provide training in multiple areas. Respondents probably picked the area receiving the most attention, which might explain why soft skills garnered only 19% of the vote.

I had several paragraphs written where I speculated on why soft skills weren’t getting training dollars when clearly there is a need, and now that I analyze the poll questions themselves, I can’t use them!

However, I do wonder if “poor interpersonal skills” is code for something else? Maybe a culture fit issue? Maybe some other career-limiting move? Sometimes it might be the other person who lacks people skills, and is projecting!

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Profession

AICPA, CIMA stakes claim to a global management accounting certification

One of the big reasons for merging Canada’s accounting professions is the global competition nipping at their (our?) heels. One such challenger, as highlighted in the current CA Magazine, is the Chartered Global Management Accountant certification, a product of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Cue Patrick Bateman: “Look at that subtle off-white coloring; the tasteful thickness of it… Oh my god, it even has a charter.”

I’m not sure why I should be worried about a brand new certification with no history and nascent prestige (to be charitable), but, … uh… hey, free magazine!

Accepting the argument that we need to meet this threat head-on by joining forces with our brethren, this might lead some to believe CMAs would be assuming the front lines in this battle, given their pedigree with management accounting. If we take these upstarts to be our challengers, this will no doubt impact the development of the merged curriculum and other requirements.

CA Magazine’s done some recon:

The hallmark of the CGMA designation is expertise in applying nonfinancial, qualitative information along with financial analysis to understand all aspects of business. According to a study done by the two institutes, this will be in increasing demand by international businesses that want integrated financial and nonfinancial information.

I think what they mean here is expertise is applying non-financial and/or qualitative information. As we all know, there are many important metrics in all businesses which are non-financial, but still quantitative. I think they’re taking that from this page which compares and contrasts financial accounting and the added value of management accounting. Where the former is concerned with the financial, the latter adds non-financial. Where the former focuses on quants, the latter includes qualitative information. (Conclusion: It’s all marketing!)

One thing is for certain, according to the pro-merger forces among us: War is coming.

(Yeah that’s right, I started this with an American Psycho reference and I’m ending it with a Game of Thrones reference. What of it?)