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Lender seeks impactful role in banking to aid speedy economic recovery

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Naira notes

To aid speedy economic recovery and impactful service delivery to stakeholders amid macro-economic headwinds and Covid-19, financial services players have been charged to maximize opportunities by re-strategizing.

The Managing Director/CEO, Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, made the call during the 47th Quarterly Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN), themed, “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities,” hosted virtually by the bank, at the weekend.

Sekibo, who was represented by an Executive Director, Jude Monye, whilst addressing internal auditors of banks, tasked the bankers on the readiness of the Internal Audit function to lend the necessary support in exploiting and maximizing the opportunities without impairing their independence.

He, however, noted that with the rapidly changing developments forced by the pandemic sweep across globe that have upended organisations in every sector of the economy, including banking; internal auditors would notice that their modus operandi are out-dated.

To this end, he said this was the most auspicious time for chief audit executives to rethink how they perform various aspects of their assignments.

Sekibo urged auditors to “become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics, etc, and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurances and consulting responsibilities.”

He further hinted, “Embracing new processes and tools to modernize and maximize the audit function helps not only with the perception of internal audit’s value, but also the reality of its contributions. Opportunities to evaluate include virtual auditing, electronic workflow management, and distance team-building and development.”

According to him, it becomes imperative for audit teams to embrace change, harnesses it, and use this season to strategize on what internal audit can be in the future, whist noting that only chief audit executives that maximize the opportunity to refresh and reposition will make their role more relevant and impactful for stakeholders.

He also commended auditors for their contributions to the industry including inputs made in shaping policy directions by regulators and the fight against fraud and other financial crimes which helped in no small measure in deepening confidence of the banking public.

Similarly, the Chairman of ACAEBIN, Yinka Tiamiyu, reiterated the need for internal auditors to maximize opportunities for the current challenges facing the industry, as each day brings new developments that directly influence the likelihood and potential impact of banking future.

He said: “There are challenges on our part as bankers in meeting up with the needs of our customers and the general public, and we must ensure that such challenges are surmounted.”

He stressed the need for regular annual audit plans to be reviewed quarterly to address current events that have significant impacts on the business, whilst ensuring that the key players continuously provide banking services to customers in a convenient and safer way.

“On our part, the need for improvement in service delivery and safety of customers’ funds as we digitize our product offerings are concerns facing the industry, as such, we must not relent in our efforts to get strong authentication mechanisms as we make our services more convenient and easier for customers. Banks should strive to find a solution to the problems associated with identity theft as we pursue digital products and inclusive banking. This is to ensure that customers are happy with us and complaints minimized,” Tiamiyu charged the internal auditors.


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