Enhanced Role of Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management

I. Current Status of Role of Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management

1. As per a RBI Report, Indian banking system detected Rs 71,500 Cr worth of frauds in financial year 2018-19. The report also said that the average lag between the date of occurrence and its detection by banks was 22 months. Further, in reply to a RTI query RBI had disclosed that in 2019-20, Scheduled Banks and select FI’s reported 84,545 fraud cases, involving about Rs 1.85 lac Cr. As per information available, bulk of the amounts involved in these frauds has come under ‘loan related’ frauds. The fraud in Punjab National Bank involving Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi, will be known to all with an interest in the Indian Financial System.

2. Against this background, the role of Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management has come under intense scrutiny. In case of PNB scam, the Internal Audit executives had to face penal action too.

3. Internal Audit often comes under criticism for not being able to detect frauds during on-site audit or at the least flag the risk of frauds in branches, where eventually instances of frauds come to light. Even in the case of the PNB scam, the concerned branch would have been subjected to a few onsite Audits during the period the fraud unfolded as well as regular Concurrent Audit would have been in place. Yet, the fraud had remained undetected for long. RBI says clearly that bulk of the amounts of frauds are related to loans and also there is considerable delay in detection and reporting. It follows that Credit Audits and periodical Onsite Branch Audits have been unable to detect/ deter loan frauds.

4. As regards other frauds related to operational risk and cyber risk, there is no material available in public domain on the effectiveness of Internal Audit in either detecting or preventing such frauds. Our Banking Advisors opine that currently with Internal Audit mainly depending on periodical onsite audits, its efficacy in contributing to Fraud Risk Management is limited.

II. Identifying the Factors that Currently Impede Internal Audit From Playing a More Effective Role in Fraud Risk Management.

Impeding Factors Remarks

Limited Coverage of issues in Credit Audit and Periodical Audit of Loans. Also even in this Digital Age, Audit still remains only a ‘Point in Time Exercise’

  • Currently, Credit Audit largely looks at various compliances and documentation issues. There is no in-depth audit of the appraisal, internal rating exercise or checking the credentials of the promoters. In some Banks, Credit Audit is not even under the control of Internal Audit.
  • Other than Credit Audit, loans are audited only during onsite branch audits or Concurrent Audits. in both these audits, focus seems to be on Documentation issues or operational matters like revenue leakage.
  • Our Banking Advisors feel in most Indian Banks, there is a reluctance on the part of Internal Audit to be assertive in the Audit of high value loans.
  • As against this, a leading PSB does loan Origination Audit online very close to origination. Also, high value loans are subjected to continuous off-site audit. The bank’s IA also gets specialised borrower-wise reports from Credit Rating agencies.

Limited scope of Offsite and Concurrent Audit

  • Onsite Concurrent Audit is seen more as regulatory compliance rather than an effective component of IA.
  • Unfortunately Banks still subject only a tiny proportion of branches to Concurrent Audit. With extensive digitisation, banks could easily have opted for digitisation of CA with a much higher coverage in terms of branches and issues covered.
  • Although many Banks have introduced Offsite Transaction Monitoring System, its coverage is patchy and it is far from evolving into a component of Concurrent Audit across all branches, which is its real potential.

Not aligning Audit Checklists to Fraud Risk on a continuous basis.

Banks have a wealth information on frauds occurring across the Banking system. RBI, circulates not only data as also the ‘modus operandi’ followed in perpetration of frauds in various Banks. This will enable Banks to identify the control breaches that led to such frauds. Strengthening audit checklist to in relation to the controls the breaches of which led to frauds, will make Internal Audit contribute effectively to ‘Fraud Risk Management’

III. Way Forward for an Enhanced and More Effective Role for Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management.

5. Based on the NCS team’s experience in automating Internal Audit and the domain knowledge of our Banking Advisors, we suggest the way forward as follows for an “Enhanced Role of Internal Audit in Fraud Risk Management”

Moving Loan Review Mechanism (applicable to loans above Rs 5 cr) , which is a regulatory prescription, totally online. Increasing the intensity of LRM. In any Loan related fraud, the warning signals start from the origination stage itself.

  • We know that SBI has been running an online LRM for over 6 years now. One of our Banking Advisors who was then in SBI, had conceived and implemented the project.
  • Warning signals in loans which turn out to be frauds are often discernible at the loan origination stage itself.
  • Internal Audit has to be given the tools available for verification of credentials of customer, financial data of similar units, industry profiles etc. All such data points are available from various sources.
  • As it is an existing compliance requirement, what a Bank will be doing is realigning LRM to suit today’s needs. In fact, going online will reduce costs.

Off-site Audit of Post Sanction of High Value Loans

  • RBI has often commented adversely on quality of Post Sanction Monitoring of Loans in Banks.
  • An Off-site Audit model for Post Sanction will definitely put the necessary pressure on operations to improve in this critical area.
  • It is generally accepted that weak Post Sanction encourages fraudsters and also frauds remain undetected for long.
  • Off-site Audit of Post Sanction is also the best industry practice.

Upgrading OTMS

  • Based on the information on frauds both within the Bank and frauds reported in other banks will identify the controls in which breaches have to be eliminated.
  • Designing OTMS alerts for these controls will help the Bank track compliance which by itself will improve compliance.
  • OTMS data will also help collaborate with Risk and Operations to strengthen critical controls to mitigate fraud risk.

“We are illustrating this with an example. Frauds relating to fraudulent ‘Ware house receipts for Agri products’ have happened in Banks in many States. The usual modus operandi is for a a fraudster in rural/ semi urban centre to get fake warehouse receipts issued in connivance with ware house owners/ authorities without actually putting any produce inside’. Branch Managers fall prey as they see opportunity for bulk business. Also, normally such loans are safe if all the controls are adhered to. The critical control breach which takes place is not verifying that the borrower tendering the ware house receipt, actually has the landholding required for growing the produce he is warehousing. Such documents are available with all genuine farmers. Having an OTMS alert for new warehouse receipt loans for checking borrower capacity will help mitigate the fraud risk”

Aligning Audit Check Lists to Fraud Risk

  • As a one-time measure, IA can review the various audit checklists to make changes/ enhancements to cover the control risks, breach of which, could have contributed to the frauds (a list of current frauds in the Bank and in other Banks needs to be made) being perpetrated.
  • Any breach of these controls need to be tracked regularly. The regular branch audits say in a month, provides a convenient sample to form a conclusion of the effectiveness of the control across the Bank. If the control breaches are significant, warning signals to be conveyed to Operations & Risk Management.

Root Cause Analysis of New Frauds.

Whenever any new fraud is reported in the Bank or in the Banking system, IA can take up a root cause analysis (small value frauds due to human error can be excluded) to identify the control breaches which contributed to the fraud. Wherever needed modifying/ enhancing audit checklist can be done so that such breaches are identified by IA.

As cyber frauds are on the rise, the scope of Internal audit of IT needs considerable enhancement.

A Dash board can be constructed to keep the Top Management informed about the findings/ developments relating to the above points.


Discovering Oneself

Need for Self-Confidence

Confidence is a feeling that is developed over a period of time through numerous experiences. However, for most people, confidence is something that fluctuates based on the situations faced, its travels to its peak and hits the rock-bottom too.

When one is cherishing their success and accomplishments however trivial they may be, it makes them feel confident and strong. But when one is mentally agonized or feeling low they may be recollecting, drawing more focus on their failures and may feel low self-confidence or even defeat. The good news is my dear friends, understand that you are not alone, as everyone struggles in maintaining self-confidence and it’s natural that one fumbles every now and then.

So why is Self Confidence so important?

To Almost every one, the aspiration is to have as many as possible successes, admirable achievements in journey of Life. To start with, one may not possess all the ingredients needed to attain their desired success, mostly they are acquired on the way. But the fundamental component needed to obtain all the other abilities/ talents need to succeed in journey is undoubtedly Self Confidence!

When one is Self-Confident, one feels and believes that he can successfully do something by applying one’s knowledge, skills and prior experiences. Self Confidence, enables one to accept and act on more challenges, provides clarity, increases ones potential and more improves ones Self-esteem.

When one starts proving to oneself, it builds more trust and belief, instils further Confidence.

So how does one build and maintain the Self Confidence?

It’s more like a continuous exercise. When one wishes have a physic that the onlookers envy, one would achieve it only by continuous planned efforts by building on the body with many types of exercises and regulated food patterns.

Similarly, one can build Self Confidence by the following the simple steps. These are from my own experience.

  • Understanding ones strengths and building on it
  • Planning and being prepared for any activity; improves on success rate which boosts the morale.
  • Meditating on a daily basics helps to focus on inner self and helps in taping the hidden potentials
  • Thinking logically than emotionally; gives room to carve out what the next action is – thus helps to channelize energy on the progress
  • Accepting the weaknesses and working on it to improve that they don’t become impediments

Author’s profile

Asir Roy Dinesh

Dinesh is a result Oriented Techno Functional expert with two decades of experience handling the entire gamut of IT services ranging from Strategic planning, Presales, Products Design, Development and Implementation. Had played a pivotal role in enabling Digitalized Audit Solutions including Compliance Handling across most Banks in India.With rich experience in product and architecture design, is currently focused on building Risk and Governance solutions specifically for the BFSI sector with AI and Predictive capabilities.Excellent Functional & Technical Knowledge in Newspaper / Print Media, Web- elearning, Retail , Banking Verticals.


Why are Trainings Backbone of any Organization?

Let me start with famous quote

The CFO of a company asks the CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then leave us?” The CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

Training is one of the pillars in any organisation, well-structured training helps the individuals/organizations move from lower branch to higher branch in the right way. Eventually training will transform individual and organization one level to an another level.

Unfortunately, most of the mid-level organizations do not understand the importance and benefits to the quality training programmes.

Let us see how the trainings help the Individual or Organisation

Training of Business Process

  1. Provides the basic Knowledge
  2. Assists in applying the Knowledge
  3. Provides the perspective to understand the requirements
  4. Enhances the Quality Output
  5. Improves the Efficiency
  6. Improve the Confidence
  7. Builds the Right Relationships

Every Organization is different on this own; first step in creating an organizational training plan is to identify the kind of trainings that are required and structure of the training. Different types of trainings will be required for different type of teams and persons. Once the organisations have identified the training needs, the execution is a crucial aspect. It is essential to have the trainings done by a trainer who can impart knowledge effectively.

Few benefits that the trainings can

  1. Training provides the knowledge and more importantly how to apply the knowledge
  2. Will improve the productivity and efficiency
  3. Increasing the value
  4. Exceeding the standards
  5. Increase the Relationships internal and external

Trainings bring the strength within the people and most of importantly confidence to individuals and in turn lift organisation.

Training is a continuous process and there is a need to upgrade the training method continuously. Upon training the individuals and constantly understanding the need of what is required to uplift, Organisations improve their performance and will able to achieve the ultimate purpose.

To conclude, a right training not only transforms the individuals from one level to a greater level, this eventually will transform the organizations.

Author’s profile

Shanmugavel P

Shanmugavel (Vel) (Founder, & CEO) is an IT professional, and brings deep technical and domain expertise to the table. Vel has over two two decade’s experience in System Architecture, Product Design, and Innovation. He has supervised, and carried out multiple implementations of enterprise software products across platforms. His technical skills, have been appreciated very much by CTOs in the BFSI space.


Expert Audit Consulting for Uncertain Times

NCS a ‘Technology Product Company’ with eTHIC as the market leader in Internal Audit automation, in India. Currently, eTHIC is running successfully in 30+ Banks in India. At NCS, we have always had in-house Banking experts, for guidance in development of eTHIC, as well as in its implementation in various banks. Having implemented eTHIC in many Banks, we had a felt a strong need for building in-house ‘Consulting Capability’, to prepare ourselves to the emerging needs of Banks in Internal Audit. It was felt necessary to know of the latest trends in Internal Audit in India as well as Overseas. The latest trends show that the traditional role of Internal Audit is sought to be enhanced, so that it contributes towards improving the controls as well as move towards auditing key controls real time.

To build Consulting capabilities, we have with us two retired Bankers who have been Audit heads in their respective banks. They have both strategised and overseen transformational change in Internal Audit, in their respective Banks. We have also inducted a retired Senior Banker, with experience both in Internal Audit and Technology. One of our Senior Banking Experts shared with us an experience of his, on how a control which was prone to high level of breaches could be addressed and compliance improved dramatically:

“We had built up Analytics to let us know the instances as well as level of breaches of individual controls in the Audit universe. One of the Controls which showed breaches across nearly all branches, was ‘Insurance of Stocks’. The level of breaches had continued unchanged for years. At the intervention of Audit, the Credit Operations Deptt of the Bank was able to take up the issue with the Insurance subsidiary of the Bank. This eventually led to development of a Group Insurance Product for SMEs (with a cap on the limits up to Rs 50lacs). Being a group insurance product, the premium was much cheaper and for bank’s customers Insurance could be bought online. The compliance of the control improved dramatically as the ‘Control’ was more or less automated, with very few dependencies. IA was consulted right through the development of the product”.

We felt that having implemented Audit automation through eTHIC, our clients can move towards a quantum jump in the efficacy of Internal Audit. Besides, there could soon be some pressure on Banks from Regulators on this subject. RBI has recently circulated a ‘Discussion paper on Governance in Commercial Banks’ in India. The paper takes about a much enhanced role and profile for Internal Audit than at present. The importance of RBI’s move can be known from the fact that RBI’s paper is modeled on a BIS document on Governance in Banks. As the Discussion paper will lead to issue of regular instructions by RBI, banks will soon have to work on enhancing the capabilities of their Internal Audit function in a big way.

Our experts have been guiding us for over two years now and we have been in the process of developing various innovative products like:

  • Usage of Analytics to study the trend of Control breaches at the enterprise level, do a root cause analysis when beaches are high and suggest possible remedies. We already have a working model of this named as ‘Previse’.
  • Audit bots for Automating Audit.
  • “Remote Audit” so that Internal Audit is done offsite and on a continuous basis. This has many advantages like knowing control breaches real time and fixing the same. Over time this can lead to a significant improvement in the Compliance culture in the Bank. It will also substantially reduce the role of on- site Auditors. We already have an order for ‘Remote Audit Solution’ from a mid-sized bank and are in the process of implementing our solution.

The innovations described above can be of great use to Banks to handle the emerging risks due to impact of Covid. Clearly, with RBI guidelines on Moratorium and guidelines on handling post moratorium scenario places a lot of ‘Regulatory Compliance’ responsibilities on Banks. Expectedly, Covid has brought in its wake business distress impacting credit quality in Banks. Suggestions on how our innovations discussed above can be tailored to suit the needs of the Banks, to handle the emerging scenario are given below:

  • In the post Covid scenario with pressure on credit quality, it is important to scrupulously adhere to the credit controls. In actual practice, this may prove difficult due to distress faced by credit customers and the work pressure on the staff. In such a scenario, ‘Previse’ our analytics based predictive tool, can identify the credit controls prone to higher level of breaches. A Root cause analysis of the breaches will reveal the underlying causes as also help frame responses to not only address the risks but also evolve appropriate response in terms of improving internal control. Our experts can work with the Bank’s Internal Audit team in the initial stages in streamlining identifying critical control breaches and framing responses. Previse can also automate reporting to Senior Management/ ACB.
  • Previse plays another important role in making Audit Plans dynamic. Based on emerging risks Thematic Audits can be planned. If the risks pertain to specific geographies cluster audits can be planned too.
  • The best Industry practice is Offsite (Remote) and continuous Audit. We know of Banks who have totally moved to offsite audit (barring checking documents) for Credit. Many operational Risk Controls are being audited off-site too. We have already built a working model for Remote Audit of Credit and are now working with a Bank to actually implement a Remote Audit solution covering both Credit and Operational Controls. Moving to Remote Audit would be an ideal response to Covid. Firstly. Audit will be real-time in a situation when risk profile is increasing and secondly movements of Auditors can be restricted enhancing their personal safety.

The technology products discussed above are generic will suit most banks. We can customize these products as per the requirements of individual Banks. Also, new solutions can be developed in a short time frame if any Bank expresses a need for the same

Reach out to us for a demo on the products. We are ready to offer our expert guidance on Internal Audit, Governance and your Risk Management needs.

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Stairway to a Successful Start-up

The entrepreneurial journey is a multitude experiences and roadblocks. Finding the golden egg is not easy, but is the most rewarding.  It can be so challenging to launch a business that it may make you wonder why anyone willingly sets out on such a path. On the bright side, being an entrepreneur allows you to channel your passion into a successful business. The founders of various successful businesses started just as an individual at home, who was struck by an idea that they believed, could make a difference to the world.  

“At the end, entrepreneurship is not about wearing expensive suits and earning a lot of money. It is all about being true to yourself, to your values in life. Your dreams” – Richard Branson

Many of today’s entrepreneurs have followed different pathways—sometimes conventional, sometimes not—that have led to the creation of various business structures matched to each entrepreneur’s spirit. Despite the different paths that a person may choose, it is important to keep a few points in mind. It’s not all about money, more important is vision and passion you have for your company. What really matters is that you determine your goals and live them out, whatever that it looks like.

Considering all that is said, the journey, is not all sunshine and rainbows. It would be detrimental to dive head first into anything without a plan. An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it. During the initial stage you must determine if your business is scalable and frame a blueprint of how you will work. It’s easier to succeed if you revolutionize only one thing at a time.

If you want to be an entrepreneur someday, here’s an equation you should print out and attach to your mirror, computer screen, smart phone, or wherever your eyeballs spend most of their time:

Entrepreneur + Capital = Products + Customers = Business

The key to successful start-up is to find the right problem and solution. Success comes from opportunities not ideas. If you want to become an entrepreneur but worry you don’t have the money for it, your finances don’t have to stop you from achieving your goals due to the existence of various means of obtaining capital.

And above all, as Steve Jobs wonderfully puts it, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance”

An entrepreneur is a thinker, believer and a change maker and change is the need of the hour, so you must remember :

Working for money will make you a SLAVE,
Working for success will make you a MASTER,
Working for satisfaction will make you a LEGEND.

Choice is yours. Believe in yourself. Take the risk and change the world.


AI in Audit

Artificial Intelligence as we know of it, makes it possible for machines to perform tasks that match human intelligence, improving the precision, speed and accuracy of human efforts. This evolving technology seems to be a crucial turning point among various industries. Business professionals agree that AI will change the way everyone will work in decades to come. AI has already been applied to driverless cars, home energy systems and investments portfolio management etc. It will revolutionize accounting and auditing as well. AI is being discussed across various forums and among industry experts because of the range of benefits it has to offer.

AI will definitely prove to be beneficial in audits because: 

  • It will be able to analyse the extent of risk in transactions, while also being able to establish an in-depth profile of a normal transaction.
  • In the financial industry, Artificial Intelligence can be used to detect fraudulent transactions and automate manually intense data management tasks.
  • The contract review allows the auditor to analyse a large number of contracts in a considerably shorter time frame with the help of the machine learning tools.
  • It reduces the time and cost related to data analysis, offering better approaches for giving an account of completeness, exhaustiveness and the risk of material misquotes.
  • It offers a higher level of accuracy than a reviewer.

These are just a few of the benefits of AI and how it will help auditors to work better and smarter. With the help of AI, auditors will be able to optimize their time and move their focus to an extensive and deeper set of information that requires human judgement. AI allows the auditors to clear their queries and interact with CFOs and advisory groups that will increase the quality of the audit process. With AI enhancing the audit process in many ways, it provides auditors with an exciting future. 

Having said that, major banks and financial institutions across the world are already using this fast-evolving technology for its significant factors like being able to deliver efficient results, detect customer fraud, risk management, and compliance issues. Banks use AI technology in areas like KYC/AML Checks and BOTS.

Artificial Intelligence, this promising technology is rapidly changing the finance and accounting industry. It can efficiently and accurately analyze a huge amount of data, identify patterns in the data provided and learn how to deal with a diverse amount of data. AI is definitely making life more convenient, but experts/professionals will always be required to control, advance and guide the machines. With AI coming into the picture, professionals will be encouraged to take on tasks that they are proficient at. Artificial intelligence is definitely a game-changer and the way forward!

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Strategies to improve Compliance

Compliance strategy is about adhering to the rules laid down by Regulatory as well as by other related authorities including Government and mitigating the prevalent risks. Internal policies and mandates arising from new business development technologies, risk trends, eTHIC considerations and line-of-defence coordination are also creating the need for enhancement in the Compliance.

A compliance audit is a evaluation to ascertain the level of adherence to regulatory and other guidelines and non compliance by an organisation. It helps the organisation in avoiding the adverse observations by the Regulator and other agencies, penalties & legal suits which may result in financial loss to the organisation. Compliance Audit reports provides the strength, weakness and comprehensiveness of an organization’s compliance adherence to enable it to take necessary corrective actions to minimise the risk.

Compliance Audit will also bring out the false compliance provided either intentionally or unintentionally. False compliance is treated as critical because it degrades the ethic, integrity and trust of the organisation. In addition, the organisation would have initiated further actions based on the false compliance provided which will also be incorrect. In view of its criticality of false compliance, the accountability extends to penalties and disciplinary action for the concerned individual.

Ways to improve the compliance audit process:

  • Identify the applicable compliance areas and areas to be covered under Compliance Audit Scope.
  • Prioritise the areas with areas having higher risk at the top
  • Collate comprehensively the relevant laws, provisions rules and guidelines
  • All relevant internal Policies and procedures are to be taken into consideration to make it comprehensive

Having an effective Compliance Audit Process will enhance the adherence and reduce the Risks to the minimum level. Comprehensive Tech solution for Compliance Audit will enable the organisation to collate the relevant provision, assess the status of compliance level, to initiate necessary preventive and corrective actions thereby improving its compliance level.

Author’s profile

Muralidharan B

A veteran banker with over 38 years of banking experience in India’s largest bank, SBI – Muralidharan (BMD) is a graduate with CISA and various banking related certifications. With his constant zeal for improvements and knowledge, BMD has been instrumental in Audit Policy & Design, Audit Process Restructuring and Audit Automation. He is a pioneer in IT Risk including Information Security, IT Compliance, Core Banking and Data Management. Having retired from SBI as a Top Executive, BMD is currently providing active support to NCS Soft in product development, offsite audit and other new initiatives.


Time Management for Professionals

24 Hours… Isn’t that what every single one of us get for each day? How is that a few people get things done and lead a life of contentment and success while the rest of us wonder where the 24 hours zapped past us leaving us reeling for the nth time; not knowing how to complete the never ending To Do lists.

What do successful people do? What miracle is that they are having up their sleeves that we don’t seem to possess? Well, I know for sure that they master one aspect, a key aspect very well…. That thing called “TIME”. The key to success is their mastery over the cant-buy-from-shop commodity, the elusive “TIME”.

If Time is such a powerful contributor for success, then why not learn to master it? After all, it is a skill we can acquire by making 1% changes each day and shedding few unnecessary practices we have given us in to.

Time management has to be looked upon in a holistic perspective; one cannot achieve the results by managing time just at work, ignoring the personal or family time and vice versa. This will result in imbalance and the happiness will still continue to elude us. Let us take a look at simple, yet time tested and proven techniques that really helps in conquering time, thereby creating a success atmosphere, personally and professionally.

  1. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about”– Know where your time is being spent
  2. “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Identify your roles and goals
  3. “It’s not about having time; it’s about making time” – Prioritise and schedule

Quote credits – Henry David Thoreau, Tony Robbins, Rachael Bermingham

“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about” – Know where your time is being spent

In Financial astuteness to accumulate wealth, the thumb rule is primarily identifying the spending pattern and tune-up the expenses. This will result in cutting back on your unnecessary expenditures and increasing your savings. Apply this to your activities as well; everyday write a journal of what you have done. Do this for every activity from the start to end of each day. Review this journal at the end of every week, say on Sunday. This will give a fair understanding of where the time is slipping away. You will be surprised to notice that there are activities that you do gives no pleasure at all; there will be activities that you could have delegated; there are few activities that you had spent awful lot of time which could have been spent productively. You would also notice that you hadn’t spent any time on some activities that you actually want to do. But, week after week this is still happening because you are unaware doing it.

So, the first step in mastering time is to identify where your time is spent. To help you in this step, I have attached a template (a spreadsheet). Use it for recording your daily activities. Review weekly.

Now, knowing where your time is spent is one side of the coin. Knowing where you want your time to be spent is the other side of it. This brings us to the next step…

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Identify your roles and goals

All of us don many hats during our lifetime. We are Employees / Employers, Mother / Father, Wife/Husband, Daughter/Son, Friend and of course – Individual at the same time. Unless we recognize each of the roles that we are playing and set goals that we want to achieve in each of those roles, the happiness / success / content are distant dreams. You might think why is that so? Imagine a situation where a middle-aged man, 45 years doing wonderfully in his career – who has set up a multi-billion dollar business that is doing performing well – yet, if has lost his health in the due process of achieving this, do you consider him successful? Is he happy in spite of the abundance of wealth that he has now accumulated? The answer is a straight forward No. Similarly, if someone has spent time well with family, but has ignored the professional life and repents later on the lost job or less paying one, it is still not a happy or successful life.

So, the key is identity the roles you are playing and set goals for each role. Though most of us have similar roles, each one might have a different goal. The whole idea is to run your own race.

To help you in this step, let me share my own roles and goals

Now you have an idea of roles and goals, I trust. The key is to create measurable and achievable goals. Do not have wish list statements which you cannot later quantify your progress or achievement. Also, begin with ones that you can accomplish with a slight stretch. If you set goals that isn’t making you stretch, you become complacent; if you set ones that are too hard to reach the failures will pull you down. It should be like jumping up and catching it. Not too far that you don’t try at all, neither too close that you think you can catch whenever you want – but never do.

Alright, we first understood how to find where your time is getting spent and now we have charted out what exactly you want to do. Now, the step forward is to prioritize what we want to do every day and schedule them. Let us now take the next crucial step…

It’s not about having time; it’s about making time – Prioritise and schedule

The above quote is one of my favourites. Most of us are scheduling our days, but are we doing it in the order of priority? Next time you schedule your week / day, ask yourself these questions…

Are all of these should be done by me?

Can I delegate?

Is it worth doing it?

Is this activity in my priority of items to be done?

Does this activity align with my goal?

Most of all, does it bring me joy doing this? (If not now, in the long term)

Each item should feature in your schedule, only after you have pondered over these questions and answered them affirmatively that you have a reason to do it. As important it is to plan your work week, it is equally important if not more, to plan your personal life as well. Your work out regime, your time with family, and your hobby everything should find a place in the weekly schedule. What gets scheduled, gets done. So, understand your priorities and schedule.

You might say, well, all that is fine, but how do I prioritise? Everything on my plate looks important… Here is an algorithm for you. This is a widely benefitted quadrant technique that has benefitted leaders worldwide.

The best situation is to spend mostly on Quadrant 2 activities. However, this would seem impossible to begin with. So, start with eliminating Quadrant 4 altogether and strive to bring down Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 3. We discussed in the Step 1 to review the week every Sunday. Place each of your activities in one of the quadrants to identify where you are currently. Now, after understanding the priorities spend in planning / scheduling the next week. This will give a sense of control of the week and also correct your mistakes before it’s gone too far. As Mr. Drucker puts it aptly, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”.

Let me conclude the Part 1 of the article with these three steps. These are crucial three steps in mastering time management. I will urge you to take these 3 steps in your mission to conquer time. Remember, things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. My best wishes for you to master the time and I am so eager to hear from you the feedback for the article as well as these techniques once you implement them. I will see you all soon with the Part 2 of the article, where we will speak more about how you can increase your productivity in whatever your do thereby saving time for even more activities that you wish to accomplish during your time in this planet. Until then, Adios Amigos!

Author’s profile

Abirami V

Abirami is a competent professional with over a decade of experience in the Software Industry, Specialization in MS tech stack with an unbridled enthusiasm for latest technologies and Innovation. She has excellent credentials in Project Management, Business Analysis, Client handling, Development, Marketing, Process Improvement and effective People Management. A voracious reader, is strong willed and passionate about mentoring people to unlock their greatness.


Benefits of Audit Digitalization

Digitalization that was once an aspiration is now a reality. Companies are constantly transforming their processes to take advantage of the technological advancements . They are investing in new technologies that increase ease of access, enhance productivity, aides in decision making, and have other benefits that will leverage the business. With all industries going digital, the Banking Industry is no different. It is going through a huge transformation and the professionals are also evolving as per the current requirements. Remote Audit or eAudit has gained a lot of popularity lately as there is a dire need for the same. 

The Internal and External Audits no longer are conducted the conventional way. With the advent of newer technologies, there is a paradigm shifting thought process in the way that the audit is conducted. Technologies such as video conferencing, email and audio calls can be used to obtain audit evidence. Remote audit encourages better communication even during the testing times such as the pandemic situation we are in right now. It strengthens the overall audit process and helps build a better relationship between auditor and auditee. This transformation will change the course of how auditors will work going forward. 

To reap the benefits that are mentioned above, audit digitalization is the cornerstone 

The key benefits of Audit Digitalization are:

  • Absolute transparency that gives way to greater risk identification and business insights.
  • Data availability couldn’t be easier. Auditors will be able to access data through secure authorized platforms and applications – anywhere & anytime 
  • It saves the auditor more time on preparing audit reports now since the system generates the reports once the auditing is concluded
  • Allows the auditor to spend more time on aspects that add value to the audit process with the user friendly software that provides all the required information at their fingertips. Reports provide better insights for evaluation and assist auditors in making informed decisions
  • Auditors will easily be able to view data, review documentation, conduct interviews and make observations with auditees
  • Remote auditing eliminates the requirement to commute and the health concerns associated with it, the auditor is more likely to be more focused than before

NCS Soft Solutions — The Leader in Audit Digitalization — offers a complete Audit & Compliance Management system — eTHIC. This system is all that you need right now to overcome all your audit challenges. A clear and well-planned audit planning and good communication are essential from all parties to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. eTHIC is designed with a dynamic dashboard that enables better decision making, increases efficiency and effectiveness in audit, reduces time in audit planning and scheduling. It is highly scalable and supports Continuous Transaction Audit, Real-Time Audit Stats, Parameterised and Configurable Workflow. It also includes the Remote Audit or e-Audit features. eTHIC is all the above and much more. Request for your demo today, because Audit Digitalization is the way forward.

Audit Digitalization


Impact of COVID-19 in Indian Banking arena

COVID-19 has cemented its place in the world history for having significantly impacted the global financial markets, including India. As Coronavirus continues to spread, and more information comes to light, the banking sector over the next two quarters is expected to have a tough time. It is a no-brainer that the lockdown imposed and the prolonged shutdown / skeletal working of the all establishments will lead to a possibility of new NPAs [Non Performing Assets]; not to mention few industry sectors like the tourism, entertainment and hospitality which are still awaiting their sunrise. Small business, which are already less on cash will face the massive hit due to the prevailing situation

COVID-19 may impact the Indian Banking sector in a significant way, banks will witness a precipitous rise in non-performing assets, both from the private corporate and the retail sectors as firms and households struggle to deal with this unprecedented shock. A large number of firms especially the micro, small and medium businesses and also self-employed individuals are likely to default on their bank loans.

What Banks want

  • Deferment of loan instalment for 6 months
  • Bad Loan recognition after 180/270 days, up from 90 days
  • 6 Month extension of cases under Inter Creditor agreements
  • No Classification of NPA for 2 months
  • Hike Partial Credit Guarantee limits
  • Long-term line of credits
  • Sovereign Guarantee for worst hit sectors
  • Credit rating reviews on hold

The Reserve Bank of India slashed interest rates, following other central banks that have taken emergency measures to counter the economic fallout from the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The RBI has decided to retain its accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive growth and mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the Banking & Financial institutions, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.

  • RBI cuts the Repo Rate by 75 basis point (from 5.15%) to 4.4%
  • Marginal Standing facility (MSF) rate & Bank Rate stand reduced to 4.65% from 5.40%
  • Reverse Repo Rate has been reduced by 90 Basis points to 4%
  • CRR of all banks to be reduced by 100 basis points to 3%
  • Banks to allow 3-months moratorium on all loans; Loan interest payment to be deferred by 3 months
  • RBI will inject liquidity of Rs.3.74 lakh crores to the system

We are living through an extraordinary and unprecedented situation, in terms of both the depth and the duration. The pandemic has affected almost every state / nation and the rate at which it is spreading is alarming. Clearly, the efforts being taken are never heard of and pushes everyone to think outside the box and bring out innovate ways to curb the spread and combat the virus. All commercial banks, including regional rural banks, small finance banks, local area banks, cooperative banks, financial institutions and non-banking finance companies, including housing finance companies and micro-finance lenders will still have impact that can be broadly classified into Short-term (4-6 months) and Long-Term (More than 6 months)

Short-term impact (4-6 months)

  • High Capital Losses: Several Banks might suffer moderate to heavy capital losses in the near future. Risk-weighted assets (RWA) are expected to be impacted by higher charges from increased volatility levels and higher counterparty risks. Potentially less favourable economic outlook might negatively impact the loss allowances. In addition, borrowers may want to refinance at longer maturities to lock in lower interest rates. Financial institutions might have to put their growth targets on the backseat due to these losses, as it would require raising additional funds.
  • Decreased Operational Efficiency and Lower Revenues: As the pandemic advances, the temporary closure of branches and employee absences will impact operations. This might affect lead generation and the sales pipelines, thus slowing down business for multiple quarters. There might be an increased demand for cash in the near future due to the effect on replenishment schedules. In case of interest rate cuts, banks’ net interest income and fee income is expected to be challenged. Due to lower offtake and other pressures, such as lower asset under management and lower investment activities, banks could face de-growth scenarios.
  • Liquidity Crisis: Some banks’ contingency funding plans (CFPs) may have already been invoked. Moreover, due to market volatility, there could be significant swings in stress testing results and limit/threshold breaches. Some market participants may already be experiencing increased liquidity tightening situations. With a sudden halt in cash inflows in the form of loan repayments, there might be a possible scenario of liquidity imbalance leading to an asset liability mismatch. Financial institutions may be required to sell assets not intended to be sold under regular market conditions to cover the sudden liquidity shortfalls. A sharp drop in interest rates and increased volatility in securities and foreign exchange prices may increase the institutions’ market risk.

Long-term impact (More than 6 months)

  • Higher Delinquencies and Higher Capital Requirements: Impediment in cash flows can lead to loan default by various sectors impacted by the pandemic. Banks are already staring at exposure in sectors, such as hospitality, shipping, transport, tourism, and aviation. This is bound to increase until business stability is attained. Under the current regulations, non-performing assets reported by these institutions may see a surge in the first quarter of FY21. A subsequent decrease in shareholder value can result in selling off securities and redemption through mutual funds, thus impacting the liquidity of Banks. With clients potentially experiencing stressed financial conditions, credit quality/ratings may be impacted.
  • Decreased Profitability: Continued business slowdown can cause a significant decrease in profitability and consequently a decrease in the earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). This could result in loss of investor confidence in the institution and further strain the existing woes with respect to funding. Any future growth plans would consequently be affected and might be in need of deferment, as the institution would need to focus on improving margins and top line growth.
  • Non-Financial Risks: Banks are exposed to various other non-financial risks, such as conduct risk/culture, brand risk, model risk, third-party risk, and cyber risk that may or may not have any financial impact in future. If a bank’s operating model needs to change, it may become difficult for the boards of these Banks to continue to meet governance obligations, such as overseeing risk, providing credible challenges to the management, and acting as responsible stewards of the institution. These challenges are expected to translate into high capital infusion requirements for the financial institutions to maintain both regulatory capital and growth capital.

The long-term implications of the pandemic for the Indian Banking Sector are unknown. When normalcy returns, Banks are expected to have learnt a few lessons, including how to best retain operational resilience when confronted with future pandemics, and possibly, how to redesign new operating models such as alternate work arrangements. The pandemic may further accelerate migration to infrastructure of the future– digital channels and connectivity.

  • Embracing New Technologies – Indian Banking sector has already realized the role of technology in achieving the reach and scale. Experts foresee higher rates of adoption of micro-service architecture by dropping vertically integrated stacks, APIs, containerization, cloud computing, AI and blockchain. These technologies will play critical roles in digital transformation of Banks and re-imagine digital delivery of services.
  • Channels of Digitization – India is home to the world’s second largest unbanked population at 190 million adults without access to a bank account. With the reach of the mobile and network spreading like wild fire, the crucial focus area could be to step up the digital financial inclusion powered by the technology. Banks will enable its customers to interact over multiple automated and digital channels to offer the optimal channel mix.
  • Security, Privacy and Customer Trust – In the FY 2017-2018, India’s banking sector witnessed an increase in cyber frauds and incurred $ 13.7 million loss. With increased use of cashless and digital economy, it will be imperative for the banks to implement secure frameworks and systems. The most common security risks include but not limited to money laundering, data breach, Loss of personal information and monetary frauds. Banks should be technically strengthened by rigorous KYC, strong customer authentication (SCA), financial grade APIs, firewalls, smart networks, etc., for secure and seamless transactions. Robust banking solutions and cyber security initiatives help safeguard against malicious attacks.
  • Policy and Compliance – The focus should be on increased digital payment infrastructure, especially in rural India, with an intention to create a financial ecosystem for the unbanked and underbanked population of our country. From a security and privacy standpoint, India is already on its path to introduce the Personal Data Protection bill (PDP) on the lines of GDPR in the EU. This bill protects personal information of consumers including sensitive financial information. It would be in the best interest to implement stringent penalties on erring entities found in violation of the bill

The COVID-19 impact on the global and Indian Banking systems will be phenomenal and multifold. It is important to take the long view and prioritize accordingly.

For Indian banks particularly – resilience, driven by digital agility is a way to achieve relevance and success on the other side of COVID-19.

Author’s profile

Abhijit Ajit Samant

Head of Sales at NCS Soft, Abhijit has more than 15 years of rich & specialised experience in Business Development, Sales-Pre Sales both at India & overseas markets of the Banking & Financial Services Domain. He holds a Post-Graduation in Marketing (PGDBA). A keen strategist, planner and implementer with expertise in devising strategies aimed at enhancing overall organizational growth, sustained profitability of operations and improved business revenue.