MARCH 2, 2022

Get to know about opportunities at First West through the experiences of our employees! Lisa Bal shares what she often has on deck.

There’s a saying in Internal Audit that no audit is the same as the last— and in my role as Digital Audit Manager, I can safely say this is true. Every day, I’m learning more about different areas of the business and working with our teams across First West to confirm the processes in place today are working well at protecting member assets and the credit union, while at the same time providing risk-based advice and insight aimed at elevating all aspects of our business.

Sometimes, when you have “audit” in your job title, it can be associated with finding mistakes or checking up on your colleagues. In reality, when we find things aren’t working as expected, it may be because a process is not well understood. The Internal Audit team are champions for excellence and continuous improvement—our primary goal is to help all of our teams succeed—looking for opportunities to make our processes easy, the employee experience smooth and the member experience fantastic. Think of us as free consultants!

Embracing technology is core to the First West strategy and my role was created to align our internal audit approach with our corporate direction. The role specifically focuses on developing and managing our team’s analytics and automation programs. These programs are constantly running different tests and scenarios on our data at First West to identify possible risks and ultimately to help remediate them—giving us the ability to provide feedback to business areas quicker. When I started my journey with First West as a university student working part-time at the Fleetwood branch 14 years ago, I did not envision a career in Internal Audit and I love working closely with the entire team and colleagues across First West to initiate new and innovative ideas to continuously improve First West’s operations.

Here’s what a typical day looks like:

7:30 AM Deal with my most demanding boss—my 2-year-old! I often start the day by getting my daughter up and ready—which involves playing song requests while brushing her teeth.
8:00 AM I start the workday by looking at my email, calendar, Teams chats and (never-ending) to-do list to prepare for the day and prioritize tasks that need to be done and who I may need to connect with. Start reviewing and working on any administrative items. I (try to) never book meetings before 9:00 AM.
9:00 AM Our Internal Audit team has a stand-up meeting three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) to discuss what we’re working on, whether any assistance is needed, to share any important information, as well as talk about anything we’re celebrating (sometimes there’s even a quick bit of trivia or joke shared!). On Fridays, we reflect on the week and give it a rating.
9:30 AM Another meeting where we focus as a team on delivering digitally enabled, data-informed audit results. These meetings often include Senior Specialists in Analytics & Automation, so we can discuss where we’re at with developing certain analytics. We’re continuously developing new analytics as a more informative way to complete our audit work. Currently, we’re working on setting up bots to run our data analytics and produce the results. This has very exciting possibilities!
10:00 AM Between internal meetings and meetings with auditees and various stakeholders, sometimes it can feel like the day just flies by. I try to carve out focus time throughout the week to have uninterrupted time to reflect on ways to enhance our Continuous Auditing Program and other data analytics. Our adoption of Agile principles means we continually test new concepts, assess the results and adjust our approach in consultation with Risk and the business.
12:00 PM Lunch: If I’m working from home, I have lunch with the Legal Department (a.k.a. my husband!). If I’m at the office, I take this time to connect over lunch with my colleagues in the Work Café at the Langley Collaboration Centre.
1:00 PM Meet with others on the team that are working on an audit to discuss what we are focusing on for an audit. Are there digital aspects that we need to consider and related controls that should be tested, such as applications that are used in the process, management reports that are developed and relied upon, any automated processes. We focus our audit work on understanding how the various technologies used by First West to run our business are set up to help deliver in the most efficient way (e.g., systems that automate everyday processes or help employees capture information correctly at the first interaction with a member).
2:00 PM Meet with individuals on our Risk team to collaborate. We share results from recent audit work and Risk shares with us what they’re currently working on or have completed—hopefully this avoids audit fatigue for business areas. Having continued conversations between departments is important as First West continues on its risk journey as an organization.
3:00 PM Meet with management in the business, which includes some of our hard-working friends in Credit and Operations, to discuss Continuous Auditing Program results. Not only do we discuss results, but also our recommendations to help reduce the risk impact for any observations that were noted, including any potential automation solutions that we believe would help address any gaps. These conversations are valuable in helping us understand what could be viable solutions to any gaps and who else we may need at the table to get to the desired outcome.
4:00 PM I often try to take some time to look up any emerging topics in the internal audit world that are relevant to share with the team. Another area of importance to us is to stay abreast of changes to various regulations that we need to abide by as a credit union. Finally, connecting with others in the organization is important to me and paramount to being successful in my role. One of our department objectives is to “audit at the speed of the business.” Connecting with others to understand changes in the organization, what others are currently working on, and any issues that are arising helps me to help our team focus our work on the right things. Having been in the organization for a significant period of time and bringing my experience in finance and retail/credit from the branches has helped me be effective at my job as an internal auditor because I can relate to their perspectives.
4:30 PM Finish up any tasks, set any meetings and organize a to-do list for the next day. I then go pick up my daughter or, if my husband is picking her up, she usually bursts into my office once she arrives home—signaling the end of my workday!

If you’re interested in a career that gives you the opportunity to lead, see what is available right now!

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