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Corporate Compliance Seminars
Corporate Compliance Seminars (CCS) is your source for internal audit, COSO, internal controls and financial audit training courses.


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Risk Management & Internal Control Seminars

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Insurance Industry MAR Compliance


The Instructors

John Blackshire
David Marshall
Sulaiman Afzal
C.S. Colvin
Evans Cottman
Elliot Fisch
Eric Hopkins
Greg Kocek
Louis Martin
Jay Roy
Henry Schneider
Tom Wickes
 

Business Partners

Infotech Global
The Accountware Group.
 


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Compliance with the NAIC's Model Audit Rule - MAR


What complex problems or issues do you face in complying with the Model Audit Rule?

The Model Audit Rule changes are focused on three major areas:

- Corporate Governance

- Auditor Independence

- Internal Control over Financial Reporting (ICFR)!

 How Can Insurance Organizations Skip the SOX Missteps

The Model Audit Rule reminds the author of the many SOX missteps, lack of prescriptive guidance from the regulators and COSO, continuing over compliance concerning detailed business process controls, a lack of understand concerning risk based compliance and the continuing lack of attention to Entity Level Controls. The author's top ten myths in ICFR compliance are:

1. Compliance is an audit. The most qualified consultants and advisors are auditors.

2. Compliance is centered on documenting and testing all business processes and information technology controls at the most detailed level.

3. Compliance can be accomplished in less than three months at the end of the year.

4. A simple questionnaire will provide confirmation of the "Tone at the Top" and all entity level controls.

5. Compliance is always measured in cost, never look at the benefits.

6. We do not need to focus on risk assessment at the annual statement level.

7. Desktop tools are effective and efficient in the management of ICFR documentation and testing.

8. Lack of effective corporate governance has not caused most insolvency problems.

9. SAS 70's are effective internal controls over outsourced business processes.

10. Information technology controls are not that important.

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The NAIC is Focus on Solvency not Shareholder Protection

At General American in St. Louis, insolvency would not have been avoided by looking at the business processes, only a very good risk assessment would have prevented the failure at this otherwise well administered insurance operation. The NAIC is focused on the insolvency problem and better corporate governance with the Model Audit Rule.

The implementation and maintenance of internal controls over financial reporting (ICFR) is quickly becoming a standard requirement for all audited organizations. The passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) has created massive changes within the auditing industry.

1. Major Insurance Operations - NAIC Model Audit Rule

2. Public Companies - Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

3. Federal Agencies - OMB Circular A-123

4. State Agencies in the Commonwealth of Virginia -Agency Risk Manamgement Internal Control Standards

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External Auditors Impact

External audit firms now have to submit their audit workpapers to outside review by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). The audit client management and the external auditor are both concerned with ICFR and its assessment to manage the liability they face from their various stakeholders.

The initial efforts to implement internal control frameworks and to provide audit opinions on their effectiveness have been abysmal. The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) created their outline to visualize an internal control framework in 1992. This first effort, which is still the standard, was fifteen years after the requirement was established by Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.

COSO and its member organizations seem to not be interested in providing a prescriptive set of ICFR guidelines. This lack of COSO guidance or any other comprehensive guidance has lead to excesses that we are all familiar with in the implementation and auditing of ICFR. The press loves to report anecdotal evidence of the high costs of compliance. Few experts are ever in the press talking about the benefits of "Quality Control".

The insurance industry is beginning to focus on how to effectively and efficiently create and maintain ICFR within their organizations and annually assess its effectiveness. Stock companies have provided excellent anecdotal evidence as to how not to address Sarbanes-Oxley driven compliance. The rest of the industry has less than two years to become compliant with the NAIC Model Audit Rule.

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Opportunities to be Effective and Efficient

For those that must comply with all the aspects of the Model Audit Rule, there are four major ingredients to effective and efficient compliance:

- Education and planning at the Board and Executive levels

- Comprehensive program planning and management

- Understanding the principals behind COSO framework

- Using a sustainable approach supported by administrative software

The Insurance Industry is one of the most regulated businesses in the industrial world. Insurance professionals have designed their administrative systems to support regulatory requirements. The Model Audit Rule changes provide an opportunity to establish a comprehensive program to improve corporate governance, business processes and information technology administration. The definition of ICFR focuses on having the most effective and efficient governance and processes within an insurance organization.

The ICFR requirements are very simple in that they bring quality control to the management of an organization that is presenting its financial statements as a score card to the public. Any organization that thinks it does not need quality control over the management of its assets needs to rethink their position on the "costs" of controls. They need to take a hard look at the U.S. automobile industry that was very slow to embrace "Quality Control" as a basic business tenant. If you want to slowly go out of the insurance business just keep on residing change.

The task at hand is to create controls within the fabric of the insurance organization which will make it more effective and efficient; first at the entity level and then back into the administrative processes. With this focus on ICFR, the resulting financial statements will properly record the results of the enhanced operations.

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How Does This Work

Every insurance organization that has been in business more than one year already has ICFR in place. What's missing is assessing the maturity and completeness of your ICFR:

- Has a comprehensive risk assessment been accomplished at each level of the COSO framework?

- Are the controls at the entity-level appropriate to address the risks?

- What is the maturity of the key controls?

- Are there in place adequate monitoring of the underlying transaction processing to alert executive management to the symptoms of issues?

Can you explain and educate your external auditors on your ICFR?

Everyone must minimize the cost of becoming compliant and maintaining compliance with the Model Audit Act. Most insurance ICFR staff members do not have the time or expertise to attempt to go it alone in the initial year of compliance. Look outside for assistance if you don't have the experienced resources to:

- Organize the details and create a sustainable program, which requires extensive experience with the COSO framework

- Insight and objective counsel into Sarbanes-Oxley-Type compliance, "Best Practices"

- Guide the internal ICFR staff to effective implementation of an affordable solution

- Reduce risks associated with the compliance process with "Best Practices" throughout ICFR

One of management's biggest challenges is to determine who is going to be responsible for implementation of ICFR program and the on-going maintenance of the internal control infrastructure. Is the initial project the responsibility of the internal auditor? Should the initial project be the responsibility of the CFO? Is the on-going maintenance of the internal control infrastructure for business processes the responsibility of the business process owners? Is the periodic testing of the internal control infrastructure the responsibility of the internal auditor? Who is going to be responsible for the funding and completion of remediation projects?

Executive management must address the above and many other questions which will arise in the process of changing how the organization addresses the effective control of its financial reporting processes.

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Change Management

Compliance to the Model Audit Act is going to make fundamental changes to what takes place in every insurance organization's day-to-day business operations. People do not like to change. As the internal control infrastructure is being initially documented, there will be defects which will require immediate changes to Entity-Level activities, business processes and/or information technology. Management will have to react quickly to determine the extent of changes that can be accomplished within the initial project and those that can be delayed. Those changes that are delayed will have to be documented and discussed with the external auditors and audit committee. Internal to the project, change management tasks will concern themselves with managing the project to meet the requirements but allow for later changes in the requirements and scope. The changes in requirements and scope will have to be approved.

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Capabilities

We help others define the scope of the ICFR program and the tasks to be accomplished with our SOXmaster methodology, which contains the following ten major program topics:

1. Training

2. Document the current "Situation"

3. Focus on the Financial Reporting Risk

4. Entity-Level Controls Identification and Assessment

5. General Information Technology Controls Identification and Assessment

6. Business Process Controls Identification and Assessment

7. Select and Implement a Toolset

8. Initial Testing and Assessment of ICFR

9. Remediation Plans

10. Finalize Annual Documentation

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Summary

Tips to meet the Model Audit Act's requirements and comply:

1. You are behind if you have not started the program!

2. Be realistic.

3. Do not fall for urban legends.

4. Establish a program management office.

5. Understand and adopt a top down approach.

6. Assess your risks - fraud, material operations and accounts.

7. Total organizational involvement - educate and build habits.

8. Bring in experienced advisors where needed.

9. Educate and communicate with your external audit firm.

10. Develop a measurable, ongoing and sustainable program that contributes to improve financial and operational performance.

John C. Blackshire, Jr. CPA

Corporate Compliance Seminars

The Accountware Group (TAG)

P.O. Box 40897

Austin, Texas 78704

479-200-4373

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Corporate Compliance Seminars
     


Corporate Compliance Seminars is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.learningmarket.org.

Complaints may also be forwarded to the company principals, David S. Marshall (708-205-2366; dmarshall@compliance-seminars.net) and/ or John Blackshire (479-200-4373; jblackshire@compliance-seminars.net).