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Highlights from RMA’s Annual Risk Management Conference: Chief Audit Executive Panel

A panel discussion of chief audit executives from leading financial services organizations discussed lessons learned and how they responded to the pandemic; Internal Audit’s imperatives post Covid -19; keeping pace with the velocity of change and risk through modernization and innovation; talent management; DEI initiatives; ESG; the future of Internal Audit 2030, and how Internal Audit techniques and methodologies are adapting to accommodate the current and future environment. 

Regarding the remote working environment, the panelists noted that the early days of the pandemic and working remotely posed many challenges. However, most of their employees have since returned to the office, but more in a hybrid environment with a lot more flexibility. The panelists learned to adapt very quickly and are proud of the way they’ve been able to operationalize and adjust in real time. They’ve realized that the controls that they thought were going to be temporarily altered are now becoming good, strong, permanent controls. They noted that they’ve proven that they’ve been able to do a lot of things, change very quickly, and find different ways to use technology and help service customers in better ways.

Members of the panel also said talent management and DEI go together. Onboarding of new employees was a challenge as some institutions had to ensure training programs were done exclusively online. In addition, institutions had to make sure existing employees realized the opportunities for growth and development as well. From a DEI perspective, some panelists revealed they’ve revamped their entire recruiting process, which has included creating diversity panels to educate their existing auditors on topics such as LGBTQ and veterans and sharing stories about their experiences and challenges they’ve overcome to get where they are today.

ESG has been a very important issue for some of the auditors on the panel, especially in the past year. One of the panelists noted that her institution has approached this topic as just as important as CECL or LIBOR. As the firm establishes its strategy around the pillars of ESG, from an Internal Audit perspective, the panelist said they’re firm continues to ensure that the governance and the risk and controls are identified and well-established.