Everyone Loves Cash. We Don’t!

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Without a proper context, the title above may be seen as a misleading statement. Our chapter is run as a non-for-profit organization. Although our goal is not to make money, we do need to make some to cover our operating costs in order to achieve our mandate.

Our main income, of course, comes from seminar and conference events. Our luncheon session would cost about $35 or less. Workshops can have varied prices as it is up to the cost of instructors. Our annual fraud conference basically has its price around $300 or so for the full day event. The number of our event attendees has significantly increased in the past couple years.

In early years of our existence, we collected cash and cheques when people came to the registration desk prior the event started. A receipt may be pre-written or freshly written when people paid for their registration fees. It was unbelievably time-consuming. Given our resources were busy volunteers, it could be considered a pain. Additionally when there were no-shows, we just lost money as we had to pay for pre-ordered food. This is why we don’t like cash that much.

That sort of activities has long gone. Thanks to affordable technology. With some courage to learn about event registration and payment technology available in the market, we went through the touch tone service to process credit cards for payment with emailing for registration confirmation/ receipt. That was much better than collecting cash and writing a receipt for each attendee. We eventually found Gifttool which fits our needs. Now we accept no cash and no cheque. Only credit cards are accepted. Our administrative effort for revenue collection is no longer significant, i.e. very efficient and effective.

Cash in bank is a totally different story and for a future post!

A Quiet Day. A Busy Mind.

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A Quiet Day. A Busy Mind.

Today is one of those beautiful days in Victoria. It is sunny and warm. With many people are on their extended vacation, it is rather quiet.

It is also one of those days we should have a break but we choose not to. Our mind keeps working for the upcoming year. According to Wikipedia, Jim Pattison is the Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and Sole Owner of the Jim Pattison Group, the second largest privately-held company in Canada. He once said, as I vaguely remember, he feels everyday is his vacation as he enjoys working so much. No wonder. While our chapter is not here to make money, we have a purpose to aim for. Luckily, we have had a board with a strong will to ensure our membership is the centre of our activities.

In the past year, about 84% of our membership attended one or more training events we delivered locally in Victoria. Compared with much larger chapters, it seems we are doing not bad at all. Our benchmark was below 50%. Looking back our early years, sometimes we had less than 10 people attending a luncheon event. Now, the range is 20-40 people in our luncheons.

We have not been complacent about how far we have come. Maybe that’s why our mind is always busy.

“I Don’t Have Time for This.” Ok, Who Else Does?

photoIn a volunteer environment like IIA local chapters, the time spent by volunteers can be very significant, to plan, organize, and implement activities. I am always impressed with many IIA volunteers I have come across that put lots of their effort and hard work to progress whatever they aim to do, for their members and larger community, i.e. IIA Canada and the profession.

Given the same context, it is also understandable that personal circumstances of individual volunteers may change. Changes in one’s career. Changes in workload at work. Changes in personal life e.g, studies in graduate or professional programs. These constraints directly put pressure on them to participate or follow their commitment or other fellow volunteer’s expectation. When one starts saying “I don’t have time for this.”, it is naturally expected that workload is shifted to others. Would others always have time for extra volunteer work? Maybe yes. Likely not. Now it comes to whether the work left behind should be ignored and let it slipped away.  That is the question of a quality of volunteerism, at both individual and organizational levels – Effectiveness. Many volunteer groups do not have it and that results in their organization’s mandate  undermined, their objectives not achieved, and their volunteer motivation running dry.

Fortunately, our chapter always has someone step up to ensure work is completed, commitment is followed, and leadership is demonstrated. As a chapter member, I am grateful with that.

Love Me. Love Me Not.

photo (2)Last Friday, our sixth annual fraud conference took place at the Union Club of BC. This year we had Linda Murray of the Law Society of BC; Andrew Cowan of RCMP; Dr. John Yuille of the Forensic Alliance; Steven Johnston of Alberta Justice; and Colin Cree of e-Forensic Services Inc. for this event. It was a productive for the event organizer and participants alike, I concluded. Our venue was filled up to its capacity!

I was comparing the first fraud conference we did in 2008 when we had it as a 2-day event with 10 speakers and 77 participants with all hard-copy materials provided. We become much more careful for budgeting (pricing), greener (no more paper material distribution), and experienced in term of event organization. I had been always a great event for the chapter and it was again on that day.

We are working with Dr. John to tailor an investigation workshop which we plan to deliver some time in the first quarter in 2014. We hope it will attract many participants.

Fraud is everywhere. Love it or not. We would rather be aware, at least.

Please Stay on Path. We Love to.

DSC00121 The month of August 2013 was one of the most exciting times for us.  Two great things did happen. Literally, we were getting comfortable to try new things and they worked… quite well.

PD events in summer were considered “what not to do” as it was thought that people would be away on vacation and so on. Also, summer months are for a break from volunteer activities. This is not uncommon, we know. Nonetheless, this year was the second year we delivered a full day workshop in summer. Last year “Champion of Changes” workshop was a trailblazer. We had a great turnout. This year “Critical Thinking for Auditors (by Phil Flora)” was another successful event.

With the same workshop, we also broke our regular territory (Victoria) to Nanaimo (an upper island area!! Well, since our chapter’s name is Vancouver Island Chapter, we were supposed to do that, weren’t we? We planned last  year but were not able to make it due to limited resources. Finally, it did happen this year. With a group of 20 participants, that was double from what we had expected.

Surely, we will stay on this path, going beyond our comfort zone to meet our mission.

Can we together be the Mosaic?

photo (1)We are always amazed with a beautiful mosaic. A number of colorful pieces that are carefully put together turn to be a beautiful image. The image itself may be impressive for some. For others, how each piece was planned to align with other pieces may be even more intriguing.  The authentic work takes time. The result can be priceless and may last very long.

Can the internal audit profession be like such a mosaic?,  I wonder.   The image of independence. The image of objectivity. The image of creditability. The image that is not seen by ourselves but by colleagues and executive management we work within our organization, by audit committee members we assist them to discharge their fiduciary duty, and by the public at large that see our task as one of the most important elements in good corporate governance.

I look at myself as a piece of mosaic. I look at other fellows as different colorful pieces. I look at our professional standards as a blueprint that each piece can be put together. That can make a beautiful image. However, I do think another element is required to make this mosaic stick together, become impressive and last very long – our passion to further our profession through our daily work, our energy to learn and build relationship with stakeholders, and our involvement in local community.

 

Head vs Heart

DSC05713Early this month, our chapter joined the IIA national workshop meeting in Calgary. This was always a great gathering among the chapter leaders across this country and it was my fourth national workshop. Social events were great. Many discussion was meaningful and truly collaborative. I think the event was another regular success.

When I came to think of the fellows I met, I felt great. It was not because I enjoyed having conversations or had fun in social events with them but because I realized how much they were involved with this IIA organization. It would be always a good reason for a person to become a volunteer to get some new experience and recognition in his/her resume. It would be an entire reason when people work for something they believe, fight for what they think it is right, and pursuing continuous collaboration to benefit the group they represent.

I am quite sure that most of the fellows attending this meeting (and those who could not make it) did not expect how much involvement they would have when they decided to be part of their chapter leaders.  The truth is when certain things come to our head and happen to flow to our heart to work on something important, we just cannot simply leave it behind – just like what we do for our chapter, IIA Canada and our profession organization.

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