“ACL gives the power to the end-user and helps auditors meet their program targets. This has made a huge difference to the staff’s support for ongoing monitoring. Now, managers can see the results within their teams and work toward an improved audit and business assurance standard.”
Tracy Miedzinski, Data Warehouse Developer, The Liberty Group
The Liberty Group internal audit team needed a more efficient way to access and test millions of data records drawn from the many financial services and life assurance companies that make up the Group – without time delays or costly IT intervention. Using ACL technology, Liberty Group auditors can quickly mine the enormous data sets and focus their resources on exception-based testing and reporting. Where formulating new data queries previously required IT support and a two-week waiting period, they now can be created in less than a day. Flexible ACL software solutions have enabled the Liberty Group to more effectively detect and prevent fraud and enhance controls compliance measures through continuous monitoring and auditing.
As the third-largest financial services and life assurance company in South Africa, the Liberty Group manages assets of more than £6.7 billion. The organisation offers a comprehensive range of non-banking financial services and oversees £209 million in life assurance payments each year.
Supporting an organisation with 4,000 employees and operations located throughout South Africa, Liberty Group auditors needed an efficient way to both access and analyse large volumes of data. Organisational business units use a diverse mix of computer platforms, including UNIX, Windows 2000, and mainframe systems, complicating data retrieval processes. Liberty Group auditors were spending valuable time working around the data access challenges, standardising and cleansing data in preparation for analysis and compliance testing.
The audit team also faced time restrictions in accessing system data, which prevented them from extracting company records outside designated batch window periods. The organisation needed a way to consistently export large volumes of data without compromising system functionality, performance or data integrity.
Further issues arose when existing spreadsheet applications and general-purpose analytic tools could not cope with the huge data volumes to be analysed. Liberty internal auditors were left to rely on IT resources to write new queries and provide technical support.
The Liberty Group chose ACL software for its unique abilities to handle large volumes of data with ease and speed. Liberty auditors use ACL to create standardised scripts, which repeatedly test large data volumes through select quality controls, while maintaining a full audit trail through log file capabilities. The technology enables the Liberty team to perform continuous monitoring activities, to protect company assets, mitigate losses, detect fraud and ensure regulatory compliance.
ACL technology also has given Liberty auditors greater flexibility in data extraction, streamlining the auditing process for greater efficiencies. Using ACL , individual auditors can easily change data extraction criteria and quickly obtain records they need without costly delays or ongoing IT support. Where new queries requiring modifications to data extracts used to require a minimum two-week waiting period, internal auditors, forensic services staff, and Liberty business users now use ACL technology to do their work themselves, at the time of their choosing. With ACL, the Liberty team can design and run audit tests and queries with assistance from each business unit, rather than the IT department.
Internal auditors also have used ACL technology to move from data sampling practices to full, exception-based testing. By gaining greater visibility and control over its vast company records, the Liberty Group enhanced fraud prevention and boosted continuous monitoring activities. The results are clear: more accurate, efficient audits and greater confidence in existing financial control procedures.
ACL software solutions have enabled the Liberty Group to: