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Adapting Audit Departments to Provide Continuous Assurance

Pranav Kapoor, Global Head of Decision Analytics Audit Innovation at Manulife, discusses how he’s evolving the insurance firm’s audit function to support continuous auditing and advanced analytics

Automation promises to revolutionize the internal auditing process by enabling teams to continually gather from process data that supports auditing activities.

As Manulife Global Head of Decision Analytics Audit Innovation Pranav Kapoor notes, this will enable auditors to provide their businesses with more regular assurance about risk management, governance and their internal control processes.

In this week’s episode of the Business of Data podcast, he talks about the work his team is doing to make this vision of the future a reality.

“The biggest opportunity we believe is to provide continuous assurance to the business,” he says. “If you can use automation to run these audits pretty much when you desire, or even in real-time, I think that’s the piece where continuous auditing processes become very interesting.”

 “You can really see a high demand in internal audit teams to push in that direction,” he adds. “Everyone in the business sees the value around it.”

We need to drive the innovation culture and embed digital skills and knowledge into all our auditors, and not just a small team that will be aware of these skills

Pranav Kapoor, Global Head of Decision Analytics Audit Innovation, Manulife

As a business function, internal audit (IA) is evolving rapidly. Companies including Manulife are looking at how IA can stop focusing purely on risk discovery and start using automation and analytics to drive innovation.

“We want to the be the innovative function in the audit group,” says Kapoor. “In my utopia, the auditors will have analytics skills and the data analytics group, which is my group, will become the innovation function.”

To achieve this, Kapoor has been working to ensure Manulife’s auditors have a common definition of what analytics is and educate them about the power of analytics to improve their productivity.

Of course, educating staff about the benefits of automation and securing buy-in for analytics projects is the first step in a much larger journey. Kapoor sees these efforts as a starting point for the more ambitious goal of enabling continuous auditing and assurance in the long-term.

Key Takeaways

  • Automation is the future of IA. Continuous auditing will allow IA teams to provide the business with audit assurance more regularly
  • Data literacy is key. Data-focused leaders must equip non-data staff with the right skills to drive business transformation
  • Quick wins come first. Delivering smaller projects that make auditors’ lives easier is helping Kapoor secure buy-in for larger initiatives