Client story

Hüpoteeklaen AS: Internal auditors help keep companies trustworthy

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It’s said it takes years to build trust but just a moment to destroy it. The dictum should be taken especially seriously in the financial sector where big sums of money hang in the balance along with the trust of clients, partners and supervisory authorities.

With more than 30 employees, Hüpoteeklaen AS is a credit provider operating in Estonia since 2009, issuing real estate secure loans to individuals and companies. Since 2021, Hüpoteeklaen’s internal auditor is Grant Thornton Baltic. Regarding why the largest local partner-led auditor and advisory office in the Baltics was picked, Hüpoteeklaen AS board member and risk manager, Raido Roos says: “Earlier smaller service provider used to perform internal audits for us but as the company grew, we needed an internal auditor with broader experience. So we took some offers, met with potential new partners and the determining factor in our decision was the rapid and substantive feedback and expertise of Grant Thornton Baltic. We felt we are on the same wavelength.”

The first project for Grant Thornton Baltic’s internal auditors at Hüpoteeklaen AS as to analyse whether and what conflict of interest situations might arise in the company and make proposals for avoiding conflicts of interest. “We made changes in our processes based on the internal auditor’s recommendations to minimize the risk of conflicts of interest. This topic is very important because it’s one thing to have a real conflict of interest situation but even that causes damage to reputation if someone claims that there is a conflict of interest but there actually isn’t. The risk of such situations arising has to be minimized as well.” Roos emphasizes that an outside look at a company is very useful because its own employees inevitably will miss something. “We get a sense of security from our internal auditor that things have been done properly and also recommendations on what to improve. Entrepreneurs who go out in the world thinking that their organization is squared away and doesn’t need the impartial input from internal audits are on the wrong track right out of the starting blocks,” says Roos.

During the year, Grant Thornton Baltic internal auditors perform a few larger internal audits for Hüpoteeklaen AS, plus they monitor adherence to earlier internal audits and undertake some advisory work. For example, Grant Thornton Baltic’s data protection and information security adviser Indrek Keis led a large-scale data protection and information security audit in 2022. “Indrek was very detail-oriented in his work and helped us after the end of the audit as well in making changes in our processes,” says Roos.

Roos says the partnership with Grant Thornton Baltic internal auditors is rooted in efficiency, competence, pleasantness. “We’ve never felt that they’re out of their depth on any topic, although the sector is specific and requires detailed knowledge. We’re very content with Grant Thornton Baltic’s work.”

Kai Paalberg, Grant Thornton Baltic's Head of Business Risk Services and Senior Internal Auditor

Internal audits at Hüpoteeklaen AS

Analysis of situations where a potential conflict of interest could arise, assessment of the efficacy of internal AML processes, audits in the field of data security and personal data protection, assessment of compliance with responsible lending principles. Compliance with recommendations of internal audits from the previous year is also analysed.

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