Anti-Fraud Collaboration Continues Battle Against Financial Reporting Fraud with Release of Skepticism Webinar Series
In a collaborative initiative to fight fraud in financial reporting, four of the nation’s leading professional associations are partnering to host a series of online events for professionals charged with a portion of responsibility in the financial reporting chain: external and internal auditors, CFOs and boards.
Thought leaders in the areas of governance, accounting, and risk management will engage in discussion on the use of skepticism within the financial reporting arena in five webinars moderated by Michele Hooper, audit committee chair of PPG Industries, and a member of the boards of UnitedHealth Group, the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) and the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). The online events can be found at www.NACDonline.org/Skepticism.
The webinar series is one of several in a line of projects aimed at educating professionals on deterring and detecting financial reporting fraud, and is championed by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), Financial Executives International (FEI), and The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).
The organizations initially announced their partnership in October 2010 when the CAQ issued a report, Deterring and Detecting Financial Reporting Fraud – A Platform for Action. The goal of the joint effort is to foster increased collaboration and communication among professionals involved in preparing, reviewing and approving financial statements in order to mitigate financial reporting fraud risk.
The webinar series will highlight the importance of skepticism — as applied by external auditors, audit committee members and other directors, financial executives, and internal auditors — in the overall effort to combat financial statement fraud. In addition to Hooper, speakers include Ken Daly, president and CEO of NACD; Cindy Fornelli, executive director of the CAQ; Marie Hollein, president and CEO of the FEI and Richard Chambers, president and CEO of The IIA.
Directors and professionals can be “predisposed to trust management and each other,” said Hooper. “This is called a ‘bias to trust,’ which can inhibit raising questions or probing deeply.” She warns against such a bias and advocates skepticism instead. “Skepticism does not mean a lack of trust. Rather it means, ‘I trust you, but my responsibilities require me to confirm what you and others tell me,’” Hooper said.
“If we take a look at the widely reported failures that have occurred over the last 20 years, many times it was a lack of adequate skepticism that was the common denominator,” said Daly. “Candid discussions on the need for skepticism are vital if we are to combat financial reporting fraud effectively.”
The titles, guests and release dates of the webinars are as follows:
The Etiquette and Ethics of Skepticism with Mary M. Mitchell, president, the Mitchell Group; and Bill White, director and professor, Northwestern University (Oct. 1).
Skepticism and the External Auditor with Cindy Fornelli, executive director, CAQ; and Greg Weaver, chairman and CEO Deloitte & Touche LLP (Oct. 22).
Skepticism and the Audit Committee with Marty Coyne, audit committee chair, Akamai Technologies; and Ken Daly, president and CEO, NACD (Oct. 29).
Skepticism and the Financial Executive with Marie Hollein, president and CEO, FEI; and Greg Kabureck, chief accounting officer, Xerox Corporation (Nov. 5).
Skepticism and the Internal Auditor with Richard Chambers, president and CEO, The Institute of Internal Auditors; and Paul Sobel, vice president and chief audit executive, Georgia-Pacific (Nov. 12).
The series will conclude with a white paper that will summarize webinar content and feature additional resources for skepticism. The set of resources will be available to the general public at no cost and can be found on NACD’s website www.NACDonline.org/Skepticism.
The Center for Audit Quality, Financial Executives International, The Institute of Internal Auditors and the National Association of Corporate Directors, representing key members of the financial reporting supply chain, have formed a partnership to collaborate on projects to advance efforts to deter and detect financial reporting fraud.