GUIDELINE ON RISK MANAGEMENT AND INTERNAL CONTROL PRINCIPLES AS WELL AS INTERNAL AUDIT FUNCTION OF INVESTMENT FIRMS

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1 until further notice 1 (10) Applicable to investment firms GUIDELINE ON RISK MANAGEMENT AND INTERNAL CONTROL PRINCIPLES AS WELL AS INTERNAL AUDIT FUNCTION OF INVESTMENT FIRMS By virtue of section 4, point 2, of the Act on the Financial Supervision Authority, the Financial Supervision Authority issues the following guideline on risk management and internal control principles as well as internal audit function of investment firms and undertakings belonging to an investment firm's consolidation group. In this guideline, the Financial Supervision Authority issues recommendations for the implementation of risk management and other aspects of internal control in accordance with the provisions set out in Regulation Principles for reporting and communication are discussed in more detail than other principles since the Financial Supervision Authority has not issued a separate guideline on these principles. The provisions in this guideline concerning an investment firm shall also apply, where applicable, to an investment firm s consolidation group. Contents Page 1 Introduction Principles relating to management style and control culture Principles relating to identification, assessment, limitation and control of risks Principles relating to control activities and segregation of duties Principles relating to information and communication Monitoring operations and correcting deficiencies Tasks of internal audit Role of internal audit... 9

2 until further notice 2 (10) 1 Introduction Deficiencies in internal control have either been the central cause or a crucial factor in a number of corporate failures in the financial markets both in Finland and abroad. Thus, the Financial Supervision Authority has decided to issue a regulation and a guideline laying down principles relating to risk management and internal control. The above regulation and guideline document generally accepted principles that represent the common view of financial supervisors around the world. The Financial Supervision Authority has issued a separate regulation (issued on 1 June 1999) on risk management and other aspects of internal control in investment firms. In this guideline, the terms risk management and other aspects of internal control have the same meaning as in the regulation in question. Internal control is a set of procedures included in the operations of a business unit. These procedures are part of the management function of any investment firm. All personnel, however, need to be involved in internal control for it to be effective. Small organizations may find it difficult to abide by the following principles to the letter. In such cases, use of alternative control procedures can be considered. This approach requires a separate decision by the board of directors on the steering and control procedures that will be followed. 2 Principles relating to management style and control culture The investment firm must 1) determine the investment firm s business strategies, operating principles and organizational structure; ensure an appropriate allocation of responsibilities, reporting relations and decision-making powers; and see to it that risk management and other aspects of internal control cover all activities of the investment firm and are commensurate with the risks inherent in its different operations; The responsibility for overall risk management should be centralized within the organization of an investment firm. The aim is to ensure that the business operations of an investment firm and its consolidation group are monitored and the associated risks identified, so that senior management will be aware of the total impact of all risks that arise in the course of business operations on the performance and own funds of the investment firm and its consolidation group. If the business strategies and operating principles of a consolidation group are applicable to the group itself, an investment firm belonging

3 until further notice 3 (10) to this group must separately approve the business strategies and operating principles applicable to it. Superiors are responsible for ensuring that authorizations and responsibilities are put in writing. 2) establish quantitative and qualitative objectives for each field of operation and monitor their implementation; Decision-making and implementation of internal control must be documented in the minutes and appendices thereto. Internal control needs to be considered when establishing objectives and recognizing their attainment; further, it must be ensured that attainment of objectives does not encourage undesirable practices. To maintain confidence in and reputation of an investment firm and to protect it against criminal activity and malpractices, the investment firm must follow ethically acceptable principles when establishing objectives and procedures. An investment firm must pay attention to the quality of its customers, know its customers, observe good securities market practices, and comply with regulations concerning prevention of money laundering. 3) ensure that staff have the requisite skills and are suitable for their tasks and that they have access to the information required to perform their tasks. An investment firm must ensure that its staff are fully conscious of the internal control aspect of their tasks and undertake to comply with it. An investment firm must have procedures for preventing the hiring of unqualified or dishonest persons. When an investment firms contracts external services, the same care must be observed as when hiring new, permanent staff. This applies both to the provider of external services and those of its employees who, in the course of their duties, gain access to the investment firm s internal information. An investment firm cannot transfer the responsibility regarding internal control to the provider of external services. 3 Principles relating to identification, assessment, limitation and control of risks The investment firm must 4) ensure that the risks inherent in the investment firm s business are identified and assessed; Adequate risk management covers at least the following risks (but is not limited to these):

4 until further notice 4 (10) Credit risk refers to the possibility of default by a counterparty on its obligation to an investment firm. Market risk refers to the possibility of a loss resulting from adverse variation of market prices or their volatility. Market risks include interest rate risk, exchange rate risk, share price risk or other price risk (commodity price risk). An investment firm s financial risk is the risk that it may not be able to fulfil its payment obligations. Market liquidity risk is the risk that the investment firm may not be able to realize or cover its positions at the present market price due to a lack of market depth or a market disturbance. Operative risk is the risk of unexpected losses due to deficiencies in information or other systems or routines for internal control and checking. Legal risk is the risk of invalidity or nullity of a contract or lack of documentation. Strategic risk is the risk that the investment firm s chosen strategy may be incommensurate with its risk-bearing ability, technical resources or staff expertise. In this case, realization of the strategy may prove to be a mistake that results in financial losses. 5) approve the investment firm s risk-taking principles; establish policies for risk limitation and supervise compliance with such policies; Set defined procedures for limitation of risks and operational limits for quantifiable risks must be put in writing. Risk management systems incorporate decision-making procedures for engaging in new activities or introducing new products. All individuals involved are briefed, in respect of their own spheres of responsibility, of the risks associated with the new activity and the ways in which the risk management procedures for the new activity will be implemented. Compliance with risk limits and procedures is monitored on a continuous basis. When operational limits are exceeded or risk management procedures are not followed, the incident should be promptly reported and assessed. Clear follow-up procedures for violation are established. Risk management limits and procedures are reviewed periodically so that they correspond to adopted operational modes and the current market situation. 6) ensure that the investment firm has a risk control function that is independent of the risk-taking function.

5 until further notice 5 (10) The risk management function must be independent of the risk-taking function up to and including the remits of members of the board of directors. 4 Principles relating to control activities and segregation of duties The investment firm must 7) ensure that internal control measures are an integral part of the daily operations of the investment firm and that conflicting duties are appropriately segregated and the procedures for key operations documented in writing; Appropriate control measures that are integrated within operations are to be defined for all organizational levels. Control measures at different levels include the following: monitoring of operations and attainment of objectives specified by the board of directors appropriate control of operations in all units physical controls monitoring compliance with risk limits and deviations establishing procedures for approval and authorization which ensure that excesses of limits are reported to the next organizational level responsibility for checking, reconciliation and reporting of noncompliance must be at the appropriate organizational level. 8) ensure that the investment firm s staff do not handle, in their capacity as representatives of the investment firm, any business transactions of their own or concerning persons with whom they are closely related, or otherwise influence any decisions relating to such business transactions. ownerships and other interests and secondary occupations of management and staff should be investigated and registered to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Monitoring procedures for registered information should be established. 5 Principles relating to information and communication Accounting and information systems provide information concerning the business operations of an investment firm and markets needed for internal decision-making and internal control as well as for external purposes. Information provided by accounting system must give a true and fair view of all the investment firm s operations. Therefore, the investment firm must

6 until further notice 6 (10) 9) ensure that the investment firm maintains accounting and information systems that are adequate for decision-making and assessment of operations; Every transaction is recorded promptly and accurately with the correct time and date and sufficient detail. The audit trail must be complete starting from the original document. A written description of the investment firm s accounting systems must be prepared covering both manual and automated processes as well as internal control routines. Management and other personnel have prompt access to sufficient and appropriate information to properly perform their duties. Information must be relevant and sufficient for decision-making. Information is released to the authorities at appointed times without delay. Information provided for external use (annual accounts, supervisory reporting, etc) complies with the relevant statutes and regulations. Management must establish bi-directional communications channels within the organization. 10) ensure that the investment firm maintains IT systems that are adequate with regard to its activities and organized in an appropriate fashion. An investment firm needs to have the necessary expertise, organization and internal control procedures to maintain and process information in an electronic form. For internal control, this implies compliance with the principles identified below in points a k. These principles also apply in situations where data are handled in a decentralized manner, ie business units besides the IT department handle and process data. An investment firm should further ensure that their suppliers of IT systems and services apply similar principles. An investment firm must comply with the following principles in the pursuit of its own operations only to the extent that these principles apply to its operations. Thus, it is unnecessary, for example, for an investment firm to establish policies and standards for systems development when it only uses off-the-shelf software or systems commissioned jointly by several investment firms for which developmental standards are collectively defined. a) Approval by the board of directors of IT strategy and budget that accord with the investment firm s current and estimated future needs to ensure the integrity and support of the technical environment. b) Policies, standards, procedures and controls for the various spheres of IT activity should be defined so as to enable cooperation among business units and in-house providers of IT services. Operational models, standards, procedures and

7 until further notice 7 (10) controls should serve as a basis for management planning, control and evaluation of IT activities. c) User operations and technical operations should be kept separate. The IT department should carry responsibility for development and operation of computer systems; users should carry responsibility for correctness and accuracy of data they enter or otherwise handle. d) There should also be further segregation of systems development and computer operation responsibilities so that individuals performing tasks in either of these spheres can only access information in the other sphere through controlled standard procedures. e) The internal audit function should be capable of evaluating the adequacy and effectiveness of IT internal controls. f) The IT department should implement and provide on-going support of systems development and quality assurance procedures to ensure that systems perform the functions for which they were designed as well as oversee the production of standardized documentation to support current users and future development tasks. g) The procedures to be followed in acquisition or approval of software and hardware, as well as in procuring services from independent providers should be decided. There should further be means to evaluate that an acquisition or contracted service corresponds to the investment firm s needs and its established standards, and is backed by continued technical support. h) Information systems should incorporate controls and violation detection capabilities with full traceability so that it is possible to assure the legitimacy and correctness of input and output data and determine that the data were input or accessed by individuals with proper authorization. In the event of disturbances, it should be possible to fully restore processes without loss of transaction records in order to assure a complete audit trail. i) Authorizations for access to data and software as well as system administrator authorizations should be granted in accordance with consistent principles approved by management. Access to data and programmes must be restricted to authorized individuals through a variety of technical means (user IDs, passwords, etc). A system for tracing and dealing with unauthorized access attempts and violations should be in place. j) The risks of interruption and loss of access to IT systems due to eg fire, flood, electricity supply, must be minimized through appropriate physical security measures. Access to networks,

8 until further notice 8 (10) devices and sensitive materials (storage media, documentation, etc) must be restricted to authorized individuals. k) Plans to assure the continuity of vital operations under all circumstances should be in place. In the event of unexpected disturbances or downtime, it should be possible to re-establish normal operation within a reasonable time. Such continuity plans should be updated and tested at regular intervals. 6 Monitoring operations and correcting deficiencies Continuous monitoring of the investment firm s internal control in respect of its efficiency is necessary. Monitoring significant risk-taking must be an integral part of the investment firm s daily operations. Business operations also need to be regularly monitored. To this end, the investment firm must 11) ensure that the internal audit function is organized in an appropriate fashion and operates in accordance with good internal audit practice; It is recommended that an investment firm use the main precepts of professional standards for internal control, such as The Institute of Internal Auditors standards for good internal control procedures. 12) ensure that the board of directors are informed of material findings made by the internal audit function, the auditors and the authorities; Findings and the measures taken following these must be documented in and verifiable from board meeting minutes and appendices. 13) review internal control and the adequacy of risk management on a regular basis and always when operations expand into new markets; new products are introduced; there are or will be material changes in the operating environment; or businesses are reorganized; 14) establishing procedures to ensure that control systems are revised when deficiencies are detected. 6.1 Tasks of internal audit The internal audit function is an independent function within an organization that is directly subordinate to and supportive of senior management. The task of this function is to analyse and assess the adequacy and efficiency of internal control as well as the quality of control activities. An investment firm must organize its analysis function so as to ensure that tasks required in respect of internal control are carried out. Internal control activities must comply with good internal control practice.

9 until further notice 9 (10) If the size, activities and risk exposure of the investment firm do not justify the establishment of an independent internal audit function, the investment firm may prefer to use external, independent auditors rather than establish an internal audit function of its own. The investment firm's board of directors should decide on internal audit tasks, authority and responsibilities as well as on general principles to be observed in the planning of audits and reporting of findings. Although the objectives and tasks delegated to the internal audit functions may differ among investment firms, it is generally recognized that they include the following: Internal audit must analyse the reliability and integrity of financial and operative information as well as the means of identifying, measuring, classifying and reporting this information. Internal audit must analyse the methods of ensuring compliance with such operating principles, plans, procedures, and applicable legislation and regulations as are essential for operations and reporting, and must monitor compliance with these. Internal audit must analyse the methods of safeguarding assets and, where appropriate, ensuring their existence. Internal audit must analyse the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of use of resources. Internal audit must analyse both operative activities and projects to ensure that their results are in accordance with the objectives and aims and must investigate whether these are carried out according to plans. Internal audit must analyse/assess management of functionality of risk control systems. Given their importance in internal control, the management of an investment firm should ensure that the tasks listed above are performed. 6.2 Role of internal audit The internal audit function should apply the following general principles: Independence from all other functions to be audited. Unlimited access to all operations to ensure that auditing covers all aspects of an investment firm's activities. Dimensioning commensurate with the size and activities of the investment firm; internal audit staff must possess adequate qualifications and experience.

10 until further notice 10 (10) Standing within the organization to ensure the board of directors and an administrative body supervising the board of director s activities, if any, duly process audit reports and recommendations presented therein. For further information, please contact: Capital Markets Department

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