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consulting and research for internal control with risk management

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Consulting services

So what do I do? There are two main ways that I can help. One is with good ideas and the other is by doing very hard mental work. If you have something related to risk, control, or management information that needs to be done and that task is exhaustingly tough mental work that's hard to do in a typical office environment then talk to me. That task probably involves a lot of precise writing, spreadsheet making, detailed analysis, research, number crunching, testing, or checking, but it may be unclear even how to start. You could do it yourself or delegate it to a colleague. If neither of those options is attractive then talk to me. My skills, personality, and working environment (i.e. at home with few distractions) make me perfectly suited to hard mental work. I like it.

People often make contact with me because they have one or more good ideas for how I could help them and their organization and they want to check out their options. Sometimes those ideas come to fruition and sometimes not. It's great that this happens and I'm always happy to hear from people with ideas.

My clients can be located in any country of the world, but I almost never leave the UK to provide those services. This is possible because design work is typically of electronic documents and software that can be discussed and delivered by phone, email, Skype, etc. I and my clients are happy with this and it saves a vast amount of time and expense.

Here are some examples of things I've done, illustrating some of the reasons people get me involved:

Mainly for design wizardry and technical problem solving

The most common reason for engaging me is because some design wizardry or technical problem solving is required. For example:

  • A group of companies based in Turkey wanted design input to improve internal control and presentation of financial information to the board. This progressed on to design of financial planning tools. I provided many of the ideas but also did the painstaking work of studying existing tools, analysing, interpreting, and presenting past data, then designing the initial spreadsheets and their charts for ongoing use (with working formulae, polished graphs, macro programming, and so on).

  • The United Kingdom Accreditation Service wanted better financial forecasts with less effort. Achieving this involved careful statistical analysis of past results to discover an effective prediction formula and design of spreadsheets (with extensive macro programming) to make this usable in annual planning and routine reporting.

  • One of the major oil companies wanted a way to analyse its data about trading processes to find and model the causes of operational risk. Working with consultants Z/Yen I obtained and analysed data, devised methods for data collection and analysis, and even wrote statistical analysis scripts using R to accelerate the work. This involved careful scrutiny of scores of time series of data, enquiries, checks, alternative analyses, presentations of findings, refinement of graphs, and seemingly endless problem solving.

  • A company in Eire with serious financial control problems had put a new person in charge of finance to rescue it. His team had been working on the problems for some time but he wanted ongoing guidance on controls design and help putting together key control spreadsheets. My designs enabled messy data that had seemed impossibly difficult to analyse to be sorted out quickly and presented convincingly to external auditors. The designs involved working through the abysmal spreadsheets and data available, creating new spreadsheets, procedures for populating them, and tools to make the work easier, including spreadsheets that dipped into the client's accounting database to extract data.

  • One of Europe's largest property companies won an award for corporate reporting after taking advice from Jonathan Hayward of Independent Audit and me. That advice contained big ideas but also many specific points generated by my detailed analysis of past reports.

  • British Telecommunications asked for my help in analysing billing data for possible leakage and in designing improved controls to reduce it. This involved me setting up and running a large workshop, checking figures, gathering data, designing an analytical approach and developing the statistical spreadsheets to use it, writing guidance, and much, much more.

Mainly for ideas and energy

Most clients looking for an input of ideas have some kind of educational event in mind, but occasionally it's more of a consulting exercise. For example:

  • A financial services company invited me to join them at a one day brainstorming session to find the next areas for improvement in their approach to risk control.

  • A leading European bank wanted to develop control standards for projects and asked for a cutting edge first draft to start the process off.

  • A county council risk manager asked me to help draft strategy documents for risk management in the council, and to help her rethink the way some things would be done.

Partly also for guidance and backup

So far nobody has turned to me primarily for general guidance in a difficult period or for credible backup when dealing with difficult people, such as external auditors or bankers. However, it is something that has happened alongside the more important input of technical wizardry, and has been valuable. For example:

  • A company that engaged me mainly to design control spreadsheets found it helpful to have someone to talk to about overall planning and how to handle some difficult situations.

  • Another company that has asked for a series of designs also likes to keep me up to date with events and discuss management system issues that arise and are in some way related to the work I'm doing for them.

New services

There are also some services that I am developing because I think they could be valuable to a lot of organisations, would grow in power from experience, and could be provided in a very economical way.

  • Risk and Uncertainty Management Assessment (RUMA) surveys.

  • Risk Register quality metrics - useful for encouraging people to raise the quality of their department/division's risk register(s).

  • Research style introductions of new ideas for risk control e.g. revised risk rating methods and workshop styles.



Enquiries

A meeting costs nothing and is sure to be interesting. My fees reflect your circumstances.

Please make contact by e-mail or by telephone on +44 1372 815 856. I work from home in Epsom, near London, UK.

If you enquire by e-mail it would help us both if you can spend a moment making it clear how you would like me to respond. Just before you e-mail me using the link below, simply highlight and copy the text underneath the line. Paste it into the bottom of your e-mail and delete all items that do not apply. If you don't do this I will reply anyway.

matthew@internalcontrolsdesign.co.uk


  • Feel free to ask me questions if it will help you give a better response;

  • Just respond on the basis of what I have told you already;

  • Answer my question but then don't keep my e-mail address and make no further response.

  • Keep my e-mail address and use it only to:

    • suggest how research might be carried out in partnership with my organisation;

    • suggest specific issues you might be able to help us with as a consultant or researcher, and why, with a view to discussing their potential;

    • suggest a meeting or call to exchange ideas;

    • suggest a meeting or call to discuss an area or areas where you might be able to help us.

    • ask for my views on possible research topics;

    • ask me if I know anyone else who would be interested in your website or other work;

    • notify me of your new publications of all kinds;

    • inform me of other interesting work you have done;

    • ask me if I would like to participate in surveys;

    • ask me if I would like to participate in research;

 

Welcome feedback

I've started collecting quotable comments from people who know my work. It's encouraging.

"Matthew proved a good choice of consultant when I inherited a mountain of accumulated system and data problems. He was easy to talk to, supportive, gave good advice, and his technical input was excellent. Specifically, he had good suggestions for clean-up projects to tackle problems that had been building up for years. His designs for control spreadsheets were clearly created with the user in mind as well as being technically sophisticated and this greatly accelerated our progress. Our external auditors were hugely impressed by the transformation we achieved. His technical knowledge raised the bar for my team, which was also helpful. Overall, I'm very glad I contacted Matthew and recommend him highly."

Darren Cran, Group Finance Manager, DMG Group

"* Good ideas.
 * Different ideas from other speakers."

Lesley-Anne Downie, Senior Analyst, Audit & Risk Management, UK (commenting on the public course on efficient compliance with SOX 404)

"It is a great web site you have created. I found it the most practical one I have ever seen."

Terekhov Andrey, Head of Internal Audit, JSC Perekrestok, Moscow

"Matthew is an impressive and innovative speaker whose thought provoking ideas and delivery style make him easily one of the best speakers I have ever heard. If you want to have someone stimulate your 'outside of the box' thinking then this is your man!"

Nicki Dennis, Head of Risk Market Development, BSI

"Extensively prepared, excellently facilitated, and stimulating day among leading risk management theorists and practitioners"

Mike Bartlett, Group Risk Manager, Lend Lease

"Your presentation titled 'Risk management with impact' was truly outstanding and contributed significantly to the overall success of the Symposium. You provided the Army's Internal Review community with a wealth of valuable information they will use for years to come."

John J Argodale, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Operations)


  © 2008 Matthew Leitch