Credit unions: Don’t hate the auditors, hate the game

by. Cynthia Rogstad

Nobody likes an auditor or an examiner. I won’t go so far as to say auditors and examiners are hated, but they are often extremely disliked. It’s a wonder any of us willingly decided to become one. A credit union employee once told me they liked me, but they hated the job I do. So how did we get a bad name?

My first exposure to an examiner was as the president of a very small credit union many years ago. The examiner came in on a Monday morning, unannounced of course, got his calculator out of his bag (they didn’t have laptops back then), took out his green and white tabular pad, pencils, ruler, and eraser, and then pulled out a file folder. Inside the file folder were old newspaper articles, yellowed from age, which the examiner started to read to me about the credit unions he busted for improper activity.  What an interesting “first” exposure. There are auditors out there that wouldn’t hesitate to put the fear into credit union staff on day one of an audit. I am proud to say we have no fear-mongering auditors on our staff at Financial and Technology Resources.

In talking with a fellow League employee, her first experience with an examiner was similar, except he didn’t use yellowed newspaper articles to establish his presence. Her examiner immediately placed red stickers on the file drawers after he arrived at the credit union so if the drawers were opened, the seals would be broken and explanations would be necessary.

The times have definitely changed and hopefully examiners and auditors are now their friendly selves instead of having what I call the “I gotcha” attitude. You are likely laughing that I am so bold as to use “friendly” and “auditors/examiners” in the same sentence. Examiners and auditors are there to do a job. Although the jobs are distinctly different, we all want to ensure the safety and soundness of the credit union and gain a comfort level that the financials are properly stated, that policies and procedures are followed, that internal controls are exercised, that loans are made according to policy and the credit union has documented its lien on collateral, that investments are proper, and that cash truly does exist, among other things.

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