Understanding risk: separating fact from fiction

Recently prepared for a speech to the upcoming ICSA conference “It is difficult to make predictions,” the saying goes, “especially about the future.” Originating, apparently, with a Danish politician named Karl Steincke in the 1920s, the aphorism has been attributed variously to Mark Twain, Niels Bohr, Yogi Berra, Samuel Goldwyn, even Confucius. Which only goes…

Internal audit, going concern, Jessops and the sweep of history

An earlier version of this article appears on the ACCA e-newsletter here. With multiple UK high-street retailers failing since Christmas 2012, it is reasonable to ask ‘where were the internal auditors?’ and ‘where was these firms’ management of risk’?  The rash of failures in a single sector raises inevitable questions about the focus of risk…

Internal audit in financial services: a long time to wait for not very much

“Time is the old justice that examines all such offenders, and let Time try.” As You Like It, Act IV, Scene 1      As Canadian consultant Tim Leech pointed out in an ACCA column in 2009, internal auditors really didn’t have a good financial crisis.  Quite validly, Tim asked the question: Not being fingered for…

Risk: what’s changed and why it matters

With a level of wisdom for which he was rightly famous, John Keynes (famously!) concluded his General Theory with a paragraph which included the statement Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. And so it has proved to be.  Many commentators…

(R)evolution of risk knowledge & training – more realistic or more of the same?

To look at most risk training on offer, you’d think post-crisis risk management was all ‘business as usual’.  Worse, perhaps it really is ‘business as usual’.  Why, after such fundamental challenges to the logic and efficacy of risk management since 2007, has there been so little change to how all businesses – whether financial institutions…

Company secretaries: adjusting to the ‘new normal’?

Prepared for ICSA’s annual conference, London, March 2012 If installing Fred Goodwin as Knight Bachelor in 2004 “for services to banking” was unwise, the decision by the previously (and subsequently) obscure Honours Forfeiture Committee to recommend that Her Majesty annul the appointment achieved a whole new low.  While he was, self-evidently, ultimately not a successful…

FRC review of the Combined Code: submission

From the commentaries available, it would seem that corporate governance practice in the UK has improved considerably since the Committee on the Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance was convened in the summer of 1991.  Since then, there have been numerous, considered reviews of corporate governance practice and of the Combined Code which emerged in 2000…