The European Banking Authority’s (EBA) draft Guidelines on outsourcing (EBA/CP/2018/11) should give more emphasis on the role of the first and second lines of defence in the oversight of outsourced activities, ECIIA has said in its written response to the consultation.
More specifically speaking, the response continued, management should be in charge of the operational side of the outsourcing arrangements, while risk management and other compliance functions should monitor whether the process is performed properly.
“The internal audit function plays the role of being a third line of defence in such arrangements,” ECIIA Banking Committee Chair Henrik Stein said. “Internal audit must focus on the assurance of the outsourcing framework in terms of the risks that may be being taken.”
“While we believe that EBA’s revision of its guidelines are timely and important, we strongly urge it to reflect best practice by specifically including reference to the three lines of defence governance structure in its new provisions.”
In addition, ECIIA urged EBA to lighten the principles for outsourcing arrangements between different entities within a group of companies because of the lower risk exposure this creates compared to external outsourcing. Similarly, “a distinction should be made for outsourcing services within the European area for those highly-regulated services – such as IT and financial modelling – and other services,” the response to the consultation said.
The ECIIA also said that the role of a risk-based approach to internal audit should be more clearly emphasised. While the document does acknowledge the that risk-based assessment should form part of the audit planning process, it also tries to lay down some requirements in the plan in respect of outsourcing arrangements.
“The inclusion of the outsourced arrangements – or otherwise – in the audit plan should be solely dependent on the results of the risk-based assessments carried by the audit function,” Stein said. “It’s hard to see how that would be helped by prescribing in advance what should be covered.”
EBA’s draft guidelines define which arrangements with third parties are considered as outsourcing and provide criteria for the identification of critical or important functions, which have a stronger impact on the financial institution’s risk profile or on its internal control framework. It says that where such critical or important functions are outsourced, stricter and stronger requirements should apply compared to other outsourcing arrangements.
While ECIIA welcomes the European Central Bank’s (ECB) draft guide on internal models for financial services organisations, more clarity is needed in some areas over the role of internal audit and other assurance functions.
In response to the ECB consultation on its proposed guidance, ECIIA has highlighted several areas where a more explicit focus on the difference between the roles of the second and third lines of defence are needed.
For example, ECIIA says that validation of an organisation’s ratings-based approach for calculating how much capital it holds for regulatory purposes should be performed by a second line function – rather than by internal audit, as is currently suggested by the ECB.
“We should avoid overlapping between internal audit and the internal validation activities in order to make efficient the control function activities,” Farid Aractingi, ECIIA President, says. Internal audit’s role is to provide assurance that the validation approach is robust and efficient.
ECIIA also emphasised the need for ECB to adhere to a risk-based approach to the effectiveness of internal controls around internal models. For example, ECB has suggested an audit cycle of three years for those areas that did not show signs of increased risk.
“It is inappropriate to impose a minimum frequency of three years, for models or for any other area,” ECIIA said in its submission. “Each bank should be consistent with its own approach combining audit cycle and risk assessment.”
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulationcame into effect on 25 May after a mammoth effort by organisations throughout Europe and beyond to prepare for the launch date. The regulations give greater protection for individuals over how their data can be collected, processed and retained.
While internal auditors in many organisations will have been helping their organisations prepare for the new requirements, now that the legislation is live, they are more likely to be providing assurance. It is critical that organisations do not lose impetus after all of the hard work it has taken to get their processes off the ground.
“Now that GDPR is live, internal auditors will need to be ensure that people throughout their organisations do not become complacent because the new rules are here to stay,” ECIIA President Farid Aractingi says. “Internal auditors are likely to move from a more consulting role to providing assurance over the processes that are now in place.”
Typical areas on which audit can provide assurance include:
Auditors will need to consider how GDPR is reflected in their annual audit planning. For example, should GDPR be a consideration for every audit engagement, in the way culture now should be? Is auditing the GDPR control framework also something that should happen across the organisation every two to three years?
Internal auditors are likely to give greater focus on specific areas after implementation. IT and GDPR-specific change programmes are obvious examples, but organisation-wide communications will need to ensure that GDPR stays topical even after the initial rush of activity. That could mean ensuring that human resources and learning and development teams have plans to amend training for existing staff and new joiners. GDPR should remain a significant topic for induction and refresher training.
There are currently gaps in the guidance available, but this will develop as everyone gets to grip with GDPR. Internal auditors should stay abreast of any changes to legislation, guidance and good practice.
For useful resources and information, visit CIIA’s website.