Constantly on the lookout for hitches and ways to improve
"When someone applies for a mortgage, our mortgage colleagues go through a number of steps to see if they can approve it. For example, they request certain documents, check internal agreements, such as on limits, and ask questions. Such processes can often be improved, either because they no longer satisfy regulations, meet customer requirements or are inefficient. Our audit team is then called in to identify where things are going wrong and what can be improved."
Getting down to work for client-colleagues
"My team and I focus on the retail side of the bank: Retail Banking. Within that area, I concentrate specifically on the ABN AMRO Mortgages Group and International Card Services, our credit card services. At the request of management, we audit a process, which takes about one and a half months on average. We then produce an audit report. This states exactly what we have seen, what we think could be done more efficiently or what needs to be changed to comply with the law - all in a fully substantiated way of course. We also agree specific measures with management and monitor the follow-up steps that need to be taken."
A whole new ball game
"Before I joined ABN AMRO, I spent 10 years with PwC, again as an auditor - but an external one. As such, I was only auditing the financial reporting. My work as an internal auditor is wider, since I can become involved in everything from operations to credit and IT systems. I also go into things in more depth, because here I can really get my teeth into what I’m auditing. Moreover, I am now making a more obvious contribution to improvements which visibly benefit both customers and society."
"For example, at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we gave customers who were experiencing financial difficulties a provisional mortgage payment stop. This allowed them to temporarily suspend their repayments. A whole new process had to be set up for this - one for which there had been no previous blueprint or best practice. Of course, as an auditor you always have to deal with frameworks, such as regulations and the demands of the regulatory authorities. But within those constraints we could be highly innovative, both as auditors and as advisers, in identifying where improvements can be made and in suggesting possible solutions. This is far less easy for external auditors because they are much more locked into a predefined process."
Avoiding the ‘autopilot’ mentality
"I started at ABN AMRO Corporate & Institutional Banking, the business unit for large corporate clients, in 2015. I really enjoyed it there. But shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, I got the chance for promotion and to move over to Retail Banking. I seized it with both hands. My view is that after five to seven years in a job, you need to turn to something new, or the work becomes too routine. And as an auditor especially, you’ve got to stay sharp. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to progress within the bank."
"Or at any rate, enough opportunities come along. It’s up to you to grasp them. Whether it’s a different job, training or challenging projects you are aiming for, you’ve always got to justify why something is likely to be good for you, your development and the bank. If you manage to do so, then you can absolutely count on all the scope and support you need."