Audit Committees in the Greek Banking Institutions: A Qualitative Investigation of Effectiveness
Andreas Koutoupis, Senior Manager, Internal Audit Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers Business Solutions S.A, Greece
In order to obtain access to well-developed financial markets, Greek banks need to win and maintain investors' confidence, not only in a symbolic and rules-based approach (complying as closely as possible with international best practices and regulations), but pursue a principles-based approach in order to achieve the desired goal of effective audit committee. The question that this paper seeks to answer is: "What are the key drivers for an effective audit committee in countries where audit committees are relatively new?" The overall aim of this research is to identify the main drivers which may contribute to the effectiveness of audit committees and provide a framework for their successful operation in the Greek banking institutions. To address this question, the research included primary and secondary data. The secondary data was based on the critical review of the literature regarding the purpose, role and indicators of effective audit committees, noting its limitations, mostly in the Anglo-Saxon corporate environment. The primary data was based on a series of interviews with audit committee "participants"- Audit Committee members, internal and external auditors- of five (5) major Greek banks. The conclusions from the primary and secondary data suggested that Audit Committees in the Greek banks follow a legalistic approach associated with the Greek cultural framework.
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