Athena In Action September 17, 2019

Salon Highlights: Board Best Practices—Financials

By The Athena Alliance

Athena virtual salons offer members the opportunity to learn from experienced board directors, who we call “Pioneers,” on relevant boardroom and leadership topics. Our recent virtual salon, Board Best Practices—Financials, gave our members the opportunity to learn the ins and out of the audit committee from Pioneer Holli Harris.

Members, watch the full recording of the salon in the member resource library.

Read our key takeaways from the salon:

  1. The audit committee (sometimes called the Audit & Risk Committee) is charged with assessing and managing risk, overseeing financial reporting, and ensuring the organization is in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
  2. To prepare for your first audit committee meeting, do your homework! Read through the full packet of materials (which may include relevant documents such as the 10-K, 10-Q, earnings call script, tax memos, dashboard metrics, and other specialty documents such as a cybersecurity report or risk matrix.) Holli recommends starting by looking at the Management Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) in the annual report, which documents the assumptions going into the financial report. Come prepared to ask the questions you need in order to provide clear oversight and direction.
  3. Walking into your first audit committee meeting, you should expect to start with approval of the minutes from the last meeting. The CFO will walk through the financial statements and answer questions on the financials as well as the report itself. The remainder of the meeting will be spent diving into those documents and discussing questions and concerns of the committee members.
  4. To be an effective audit committee member, evaluate your expertise and what skills you are bringing to the committee. The audit committee functions best when it has a naturally diversified set of skills with individuals leading with their area of expertise to lend insights on the full picture of the financials. “Learn the character of the other people around the table and how they function,” Holli said. “Know who you’re in it with to help guide how and where you spend your time.”

Athena members can view the virtual salon in its entirety in the member resource library. (Want to hear what the Athena community thinks? Fast forward to the 20 minute mark to catch engaging discussion among our members about their experiences and insights.)

Interested in unlocking access to our exclusive, curated events? Learn more about Athena’s executive development program for women leaders.