3 steps to help you create data-driven bank internal audit reports

Ryan C. Luttenton
3 steps to help you create data-driven bank internal audit reports

How can you create bank internal audit reports that read like bolts of insight?

Electrifying, engrossing, scintillating. Few people would use these words to describe bank internal audit reports.

Internal audit reporting has to follow structures and requirements set out by governing organizations such as the Institute of Internal Auditors. But working within rules doesn’t mean internal audit reports have to be tedious.

In fact, it’s possible to create reports that deliver more value with valuable insights while captivating readers. The following three steps can help banks achieve engaging reports.

Try new internal audit reporting methods and techniques.

1. Try new internal audit reporting methods and techniques.

Status quo internal audit reports tend to produce status quo results. To create tighter, more attention-grabbing internal audit reports that highlight changes and anomalies specific to the banking industry, internal audit teams might want to refresh their tools and approach. 

If banks are not sure where to begin making changes that could improve their internal audit reporting, they can start by taking a step back to evaluate current practices. Gathering feedback from stakeholders, having conversations with audit committee members, and participating in peer groups can provide useful insights.

Additionally, through talking to different individuals in the banking industry, internal audit teams can collect ideas, learn from others’ experiences, and get a fresh perspective on the bank's own methods. 

Create a picture that can replace a thousand words.

2. Create a picture that can replace a thousand words.

When crafting internal audit reports, banks should think about the people who will use those reports: management, audit committees, and board members. One thing these stakeholders have in common is that they are in high demand. They do not have time to dig into the nitty-gritty details of internal audit reports. So, how can internal audit teams tell the story of their audit findings without that story getting lost in pages of text?

One place to start is by considering internal audit reports as conversation pieces. Imagine you’re in a meeting and hand out a paper filled with paragraphs of text. Most likely, the recipients will put their heads down and start reading – not a great way to kick off a lively chat.

But what if you handed them a visual story instead? Images tend to create immediate reactions and they can engage readers to interact with the content.

If you can show in your internal audit report what the data is saying in a single graph, that’s every bit as useful as a detailed, written explanation. From there, you can use data analytics to create a digital graph that you can adjust during a presentation or that the user can even interact with. By telling a visual story with your data, you can create something that’s quicker to digest and much more dynamic and responsive to your user’s needs, concerns, and questions.

Use data analytics to answer to the question, “So what?”

3. Use data analytics to answer to the question, “So what?”

Bank management teams and audit committees think in terms of compliance, risk mitigation, and operational improvement. They tend to focus on the likelihood and potential impact of outcomes and implications. In short, “So what?”

If internal audit teams find an error through random sampling, it’s difficult to come up with a meaningful answer to that question. Finding a transient error and hopefully identifying a fix is important – but what else could be out there? Not knowing what the data means can keep audit committee members and management up at night.

However, if internal audit teams have gathered and analyzed all the relevant data around the findings, they can speak precisely to the impact and implications of the results: how many items were examined, which errors were found, and the potential scope of the problem. 

That precision of understanding and degree of confidence is what audit committees and management teams crave, and it can make your internal audit reports far stronger – whether conveyed through words, visuals, or any combination.

Maybe you’ve tried data analytics – but have you tried a solution built for banking by internal auditors?

Let's chat

The right data analytics tool can improve every part of bank internal audit reporting, from crafting clear and helpful visuals to digging deep into data for context and insights. Get in touch so we can show you some examples using our data analytics solution, Crowe Analytics Advisor for Banking.
Ryan Luttenton
Ryan C. Luttenton
Partner, Financial Services Consulting