Back in early 2013, Jimmy Ng, the new head of Group Audit at DBS received an urgent call from Kelvin Lam, Country Head of Taiwan Audit, requesting an increase in Taiwan’s audit headcount by ten for mandatory audits required by the Financial Supervisory Commission in Taiwan. However, Ng was very sensitive about allocating more headcount to Taiwan, especially for compliance activities that consumed extensive resources.
As DBS Taiwan had grown to 43 branches, the volume of mandatory audits kept increasing for the bank – all of its branches, business and support units were subject to two mandatory audits per year.
In view of the cumbersome audit work and the serious consequence of compliance failure, Ng understood that providing more headcount would be of no help in the long run. A fundamental business strategy was required to rethink the auditing process to make it less volume sensitive. By the end of 2014, the implementation of new business processes proved to be very successful, and Ng and the audit team at DBS Taiwan could heave a sigh of relief.
The case describes a strategic transformation on the audit process at DBS. It provides a practical understanding of the meaning of continuous assurance and its significance in the context of sound management and governance. It covers the motivations to launch continuous assurance, the development process, the potential benefits, and the challenges and lessons learned. The students will comprehend the drivers, pros and cons of continuous assurance, distinguish between continuous assurance and continuous monitoring, understand what continuous assurance looks like in practice.
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