<p>COLUMBUS, Ohio – Don't vilify them and don't call them dull. The Association of Credit Union Internal Auditors is doing its part to not only update its image but also show what an integral role today's internal auditors play in a post-Enron environment. Founded by Terry McEachern in 1988 with the idea that it would be great for internal auditors to get together periodically to network and learn from each other, ACUIA now boasts over 600 members. "Our focus has pretty much remained the same and that is promoting internal auditing," says ACUIA Chair and Fort Worth Community CU Director of Internal Auditing Valerie Weimer. "No one thinks that we are the good guys so we keep encouraging people to have a different perspective on what we do." Some of the common misconceptions Weimer and other internal auditors face are that they all have a "gotcha" mentality and that they don't see the big picture. "Our responsibility is to make sure internal controls are in place to safeguard the assets of the credit union," said Weimer. "Most of us in credit unions are not out to find something wrong and remember we see everything – believe me to do the job well we have to look at the organization as a whole." While most credit unions have at least one auditor, some of the larger ones have as many as 15. Because of this, Weimer says the Enron situation would be hard to apply to credit unions since most internal auditors operate independently from any outside consultants or CPAs. "Independence is key for internal auditors," says Weimer. "Ideally the internal auditor should be focused on only that. If you are setting up procedures and policies it may be hard to distinguish or make recommendations on a policy you created." Weimer emphasizes that it is not an impossible task, since many run a one-person-shop, but it takes a very strong independent person to successfully pull it off. Another step in the makeover meant moving away from what Weimer describes as the pencil/visor accounting look of its Web site. The fresh, modern, sleek feel of the site reinforces McEachern's original vision of ACUIA as a resource where internal auditors converse, connect, exchange and empower. The site features a news section, expanded members-only programs, continuation of the online members forum, job postings, updated contact information for key ACUIA leadership, and previews of the 2002 conference. Among the services ACUIA now offers to credit unions is an internal audit information help packet and mentoring programs for new credit union auditors. The ACUIA Internal Audit Help Package, which can be downloaded from the Web site for free, contains a variety of information and sample documents covering such topics as job descriptions, internal audit charters, audit plans, organization charts, publication sources, regulatory agencies, how to start an internal audit function and what qualifications to look for in an internal auditor. A Mentoring Program supports new credit union internal auditors in developing or enhancing their audit function and assistance can range from developing audit programs and administrative procedures, to interacting with the supervisory committee, board and/or senior management. "Auditors can't prevent a fraud – if someone wants to steal from you they are going to do it," said Weimer. "What we can do is see to it that there are controls in place that management values and maintains that make it very hard for someone to get away with it." [email protected]</p>

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