I enjoyed reading publisher Mike Welch's recent column on the potential of credit union internal auditors as an asset, and couldn't agree more with the concept and his conclusions. Certainly, these comments apply to the role of every internal auditor in every commercial institution, not just credit unions. However, as the saying goes, although "God feeds the birds, he doesn't throw it in the nest." It is true that each auditor is in a unique position in their firm. They are able to observe the internal mechanism and gears of a watch, with the back removed, and note how all the parts work when carefully crafted and positioned to achieve their goal. Similarly, the auditor has access to all operating activities within the firm to see that each performs its function to meet the agreed goals. However, I have listened to other auditors over the years at local, regional and national conferences. Too many are too comfortable in the stable practices they learned in past years. They have X years of experience, but it's the same year for X years. While they yearn for the recognition, and compensation, they are unwilling to strive for the next plateau and earn those plaudits. There are still too many green eye shade auditors. To achieve the goals presented by Welch, a professional auditor must constantly be aware of the bigger picture and of how to make a contribution to it. That never occurs when the success of an audit, or a report, is measured in the number of findings. An auditor will have made the transition when he or she views findings as symptoms of some larger policy or operating issue to be addressed. The auditor must be willing to risk recommending a solution that is, first, viewed as unselfishly presented, then, is accepted for its focus on the problem and risk, respectful of operational limitations, economical to introduce, and innovative in its components. James A. Nichols Internal Audit Manager Star One Credit Union Sunnyvale, Calif.

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