Audit tool accelerates key documentation project

Finance and services company FirstAssist Group has used sophisticated software to accelerate a programme to document its internal policies and procedures as it completes its demerger from Royal and Sun Alliance.

Finance and services company FirstAssist Group has used sophisticated software to accelerate a programme to document its internal policies and procedures as it completes its demerger from Royal and Sun Alliance.

 

The group, which was formed from a management buy-out from RSA, manages financial products and other services for banks and businesses.

 

It claims to have cut between three and five months from a nine-month-long policy documentation project by installing specialised compliance management software following the split with its parent company.

 

FirstAssist plans to use the system, known as Rulesafe, as an audit tool to demonstrate to financial regulators that the company and its staff are complying with financial regulations and have a firm grip on their operating procedures.

 

"We have got to be able to demonstrate our procedures to external auditors," said IT operations manager Steve Richards.

 

"Quite a lot of our business is regulated by the Financial Services Authority. We see Rulesafe as a powerful tool to give regulators and auditors confidence that we have control over our procedures."

 

Following the demerger, FirstAssist began bringing its policies and procedures - which were scattered across paper manuals, an intranet and computer files - together into a central database.

 

The project was essential, said Richards, so staff could find the policies they needed for different clients easily and quickly.

 

The Secoda-supplied RuleSafe software allows FirstAssist to keep an audit trail showing which staff have read and understood policies, providing powerful evidence for regulators and auditors.

 

"We have the capability to go around to an individual and ask them why they have not read a policy," said Richards.

 

"You need to have 100% of your staff aware of certain policies. We are confident that, should an auditor walk up to a member of staff, the employee knows where to find a policy, and has read it."

 

The software, which runs on a Windows server, allows staff to identify the policies they need for their work from the hundreds stored on the central database.

 

First Assist originally planned to store the documentation on its intranet, but changed tack after seeing a demonstration of the Rulesafe software, which is currently going through final acceptance testing.

 

"I think it saved us months off a programme that would have taken between nine months and a year. I suspect it possibly halved the programme time," said Richards.

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