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How auditors can maintain relevance, upscale service delivery in today’s digital world – Nova Merchant Bank CEO

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nova Merchant Bank, Mr. Nath Ude has challenged auditors to as a matter of urgency key into the dynamics of today’s digital world if they want to remain relevant and be up to date in both service delivery and professional ranking.  

According to him, auditors must only not be left behind in control but should be far ahead of digitisation processes as it now affects financial services delivery globally.

Ude said this while delivering a paper entitled ‘Future of Internal Audit in an Increasingly Digital World’ at the 52nd Quarterly General Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN) at Oriental Hotel, Lagos on Thursday.

“The tools, knowledge and skills of internal auditors must evolve with the evolving times. The tools used to carry out audits; the knowledge – terms, terminologies, applications, options, uses – of digital platforms, outlets, services; and the skills – comfort with basic computer applications and IT (Information Technology) audit software, development of IS (Information Systems) audit skills, (re)learning – must rise to meet the changes in the industry.

“The volume and breadth of transactions, reports, customer service requests, incident reports, regulatory filing and the checks that will need to be done on these items cannot be done effectively with the usual tools and cannot be done effectively using the usual processes,” Ude explained.

Ude noted that from experience, computer knowledge, expertise and experience of audit teams has direct impact on their ability to optimize the use of the technology available to them.

“Technological advancement in hardware and software applications, have brought about automations that continuously reduce the need for human interference in processes and by default, human interference in auditing of such processes; especially where the applications are intelligent systems that learn and evolve based on their learnings – most commonly referred to as AI (Artificial Intelligence).”

He, therefore advocated for a new breed of internal auditors who will be saddled with the onerous responsibility of moving organisations to their desired spaces in the digital world.

Not dismissing the risks associated with digitalization of the auditing processes, the NOVA Bank CEO said: “As our businesses adapt to bring services closer, faster and more conveniently to current, prospective and future clients, the attendant risks and controls required to manage such risks cannot be overstated.

“Just as banking evolved from having your bank account accessible from a specific branch of a specific bank located at a specific location, to where we now have borderless banking accessible from an app in a phone in our pocket; the risks have evolved from guarding the bank branch to guarding the internet connection points, cloud storage and intranet connections of our banks – all words and concepts that would have been strange as recently as 40 years ago.

“The exposures to financial loss and data compromise in the digital space is a significant concern that requires auditors who not only understand internal business processes but also have the skills base to understand the digital processes and exposures the Bank faces.”

Meanwhile, the highlight of the event yesterday was Ude’s appointment to the Governing Council of Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

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