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November 04, 2019

Seeing Tomorrow, Today.

What does the auditor of the future look like? Meet Internal Audit Director Chris Kolan. Chris' team is changing the way auditors think about monitoring risk.

Chris Kolan an other members of the Freddie Mac internal audit team
Chris Kolan an other members of the Freddie Mac internal audit team.

What is your role within Internal Audit?

Chris: My team is responsible for bringing data analytics into the audit space, so that we can drive the maximum amount of value from Freddie Mac's huge amount of data.

We're a support function within Internal Audit, the company's third line of defense for risk management. My team doesn't run the actual audits. We get plugged in when the project is either data intensive or has higher risk characteristics — or where we're trying to build in some automation and efficiency into the process.

Data analysis can't be considered a specialty anymore. Even generalists should have a minimum competency. To help our auditors better leverage analytics, we offer a certificate training program.

How is leveraging data different from traditional methods?

Chris: Auditors really like sampling. A random sample can tell us a lot about the broader population, but a more targeted sample based on data characteristics might find that needle in the haystack — a certain type of outlier with high risk potential.

Data also helps us to bridge the period between audit cycles. I can set up some data monitoring that will help us to stay on top of potential high-risk areas on a continual basis. Being data-driven gives us more confidence that we're addressing those higher risk areas in a more strategic, insightful and efficient manner.

What would you like other people to know about working with Internal Audit?

Chris: We encourage you to broadly share information about the high priority business items you're working on that are driving our business forward. Take the time to brag a little. Sharing more information rather than just what is asked for, gives us a more complete picture and it helps to highlight things you are doing really well. Plus, if you bring us to the table early, you might get a different risk perspective that might prove beneficial. We want to work with you to optimize the opportunities that are in front of all of us.

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