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Trusted Partners of the Business


Trusted Partners of the Business

“Auditors are watchdogs not bloodhounds” was the common saying I heard a lot during my Bachelor of Commerce with The University of Auckland. While we learn all the management assertions of completeness, accuracy, existence, etc., I didn’t have much of an idea of what an auditor does, let alone an external versus internal auditor.

Like many accounting graduates, I started off doing external audit with PwC Hong Kong. The most exciting part of audit for me was going into factories and utility plants in China, as it was transpiring what we saw on financial statements into real business operations. I remember the time I looked at how wastewater was treated. This was the early on-the-job training I had to understand processes and controls; seeing how the toxic and smelly water reached its safety level for release into the ocean.

After four years of looking at financial statements, I wanted to know more of how a business works. Luckily, I got into the banking industry as a Markets Operations Manager with HSBC Hong Kong. It was an interesting experience as Line 1 in the three lines of defence to design controls and procedures for outsourcing settlement processes. I also met with the operation teams of fund houses, corporates and sovereign funds to get feedback on how the Bank’s confirmation and settlement operations impacts them as customers.

With the internal control exposures during my audit and the Bank Line 1 roles, it felt natural to put my expertise and experience to good use doing the Bank’s internal audit. The fun of being an internal auditor is getting to learn how a department or a business operates in a short period of time and meeting a lot of passionate and amazing people. I also had tremendous career progression over the past six years from Manager to Senior Manager, and I am now an Executive Manager with ASB.

My most rewarding experience was supporting the Global Cash and Liquidity Asia Pacific portfolio. It was a tough situation when I took over the portfolio as the business had a terrible experience in past audits. They felt internal audits were their enemy as they weren’t being assessed fairly. It took a great deal of effort to regain their trust by demonstrating the partnership and the value add we brought during different audits. After 18 months, we have completely turned the relationship around, and I was thanked by the Asia Pacific Regional Business Head for helping them grow their business safely.

Going back to external vs internal audit with my experiences now, I would say internal audit made me feel a lot closer to the people including our customer and bank staff, and how the bank operations impact them. If I interpret the common saying for internal auditors, I believe internal auditors are trusted partners of the business to safeguard the Bank for our customers and shareholders.

Catherine Leung
Executive Manager | Audit and Assurance
ASB Bank Ltd

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