Risk Insider: Greg Bangs

When Do-Gooders Do Wrong: Fraud at Nonprofits

By: | May 21, 2015 • 2 min read
Gregory W. Bangs is chief underwriting officer of global crime at XL Catlin. Over the last 30 years, he’s been underwriting insurance and developing new products in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong and France. He can be reached at Gregory.Bangs@xlcatlin.com.

Recently, a former Emory University employee pleaded guilty to wire fraud after embezzling more than $300,000 in tuition and fees paid by students. She instructed students to wire their tuition into her own Paypal account.

According to her attorney, “Based on the circumstances at her life at the time, she made some poor choices.”

From universities to religious groups to a host of local, national and global charities, nonprofit organizations are full of honest, hard-working people dedicated to improving society in some way. Unfortunately, even the most well-meaning individuals can find themselves in situations — faced with financial troubles or other personal circumstances — that tempt them to act inappropriately. Before they know it, they find themselves in financial hot water and, in turn, their nonprofit employer is in it as well.

According to the latest “Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, 2014 Global Fraud Study,” by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, not-for-profit organizations continue to make up more than 10 percent of frauds committed.

While a for-profit organization may see stolen money take a bite out of its profits, a charitable organization may see even greater financial and reputational damage when money intended for doing good goes elsewhere.

That’s why the temptation to cover up financial problems can be particularly attractive for nonprofits. For organizations that rely on charitable giving, the notion that they are not safeguarding donations more carefully can put a dent in the future donation stream.

It’s also a bit of a double-edged sword for nonprofits. Putting fraud controls in place may entail some administrative costs and many donors evaluate their giving decisions based on nonprofits’ cost allocations, leaning towards organizations that show more of a donor’s dollar goes directly to their cause, not administrative costs.

While a for-profit organization may see stolen money take a bite out of its profits, a charitable organization may see even greater financial and reputational damage when money intended for doing good goes elsewhere.

In the long-run however, internal processes and protocols can prove to be a wise investment that will assure that money given to a cause is allocated to do the good it is intended, not to get swiped by employees.

Like any for profit organization, not-for-profits need to maintain a strong system of internal controls, among them:

  • Segregate duties. This assures that one employee cannot perform a complete financial transaction from end-to-end without involving someone along the way.
  • Background checks. For a nominal cost, nonprofits can make sure that employees have not already had some past issues that would affect their judgment with the organization’s money
  • Invest in technology. Today software accounting packages can raise a variety of red flags such as repetitive withdrawals or employee expense reimbursements.
  • Identify the role of board members for responding to or investigating allegations of fraud. Many seasoned financial and business professionals serve on charitable organization’s boards of directors and can be valuable sources for setting up fraud control procedures.
  • Commit to an independent audit every 4-5 years. Larger charitable organizations may commit to independent audits more regularly as they are often required in order to receive federal funding. Smaller organizations can seek more affordable methods of evaluating the nonprofit’s financial positions, such as a review of certified financial statements.
  • Prosecute offenders. Again, many nonprofits can be reluctant to go public with fraud cases because of its potential effect on donors. Not acting however, can be equally detrimental, sending a signal that employees who dip into an organization’s bank account may just walk away with a slap on the wrist.
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Risk Insider: Terri Rhodes

Ten Tips for Leave Management

By: | May 19, 2015 • 3 min read
Terri L. Rhodes is Executive Director of the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). Prior to returning to DMEC, Terri was an Absence and Disability Management Consultant for Mercer delivering strategic absence and disability management solutions to clients of all sizes, Director of Absence and Disability for Health Net and Corporate IDM Program Manager for Abbott Laboratories.

The environment for leave management has become increasingly complex—and potentially costly to those not in compliance with the growing number of leave laws and regulations. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the myriad of state and local laws have made managing leave, while remaining in legal and regulatory compliance, more difficult and complex.

Leave laws not only create risk. They also create opportunity.

There is good news. A large and growing number of conferences, webinars and other resources are available to help guide risk managers and others through the ever changing leave landscape. DMEC’s recent Compliance Conference addressed many of the issues surrounding leave management and the ever-changing landscape.

During the RIMS annual conference, Karen English of Spring Consulting Group and I offered the following leave management tips at one session.

One: Training is critical. Managers must understand the leave process and their responsibilities under it and the law and uniformly administer leave policies. We don’t expect them to be experts but they need to understand how an employee might evoke their rights under FMLA or ADAA.

Two: HR and other staff must be qualified. Appropriate leave and HR administrators need to be up to date on all absence management programs and be prepared to answer employee questions about their rights for leave and job accommodation.

Three: Collaboration across business units is key. Leave programs across organizational boundaries; HR, disability, legal and other departments need to work collaboratively. Removing barriers between disciplines creates efficiencies and limits liability.

Four: Implement clear and consistent processes and policies. FMLA and ADA policies should be as uniform and applied as consistently as possible across the organization regardless of size or geography, allowing for some flexibility. Stakeholders need to engage with consistent correspondence, tracking, management, decision-making and communication.

Five: Centralize administration of the leave function. Employees and managers should have one source for questions and answers.

Six: Evaluate your program. Inventory the system used, are you tracking or managing your program. If an organization has internal system to manage or track its leave program, it should be regularly evaluated for effectiveness. If you choose a software system or outsource administration make sure that your vendor has ongoing compliance support.

Seven: Outsource if necessary. Outsourcing has increased over the last three years, there are more options than ever, and the list continues to grow. But it doesn’t fit every culture or organization; choose what works best for your company.

Eight: Evaluate your vendor. Just because a company outsources leave management, it does not mean it outsources its legal responsibilities.   Even with outsourcing, an organization must establish a process to update its leave programs to meet its changing business and staff needs.

Nine: Measurement, tracking and reporting should be actionable. Key metrics like lost time, costs, return-to-work rates, abuse and productivity are useful to the degree they enable managers to change leave programs to better meet the needs of employees and the organization.

Ten: Create a culture of continual improvement. While legal and regulatory compliance is essential, it is not enough to ensure a leave program helps advance strategic business goals. That requires that managers—and executives–view leave programs as an arena for new investment and training to catalyze change to maximize returns.

Leave laws not only create risk. They also create opportunity.

Planned and implemented in a thoughtful and strategic way, effective leave management can be a competitive advantage in the battle for the best talent. Take advantage of the resources out there and become educated on both the risks and opportunities offered by the new world of employee leave.

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Sponsored: Liberty International Underwriters

Making the Marine Industry SAFE

A new initiative to help marine clients address safety risks leverages a customized, expertised approach.
By: | May 8, 2015 • 5 min read
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When it comes to marine based businesses there is no one-size-fits-all safety approach. The challenges faced by operators are much more complex than land based businesses.

The most successful marine operators understand that success is dependent on developing custom safety programs and then continually monitoring, training and adapting.

After all, it’s not just dollars at stake but the lives of dedicated crew and employees.

The LIU SAFE Program: Flexible, Pragmatic and Results Driven

Given these high stakes, LIU Marine is launching a new initiative to help clients proactively identify and address potential safety risks. The LIU SAFE Program is offered to clients as a value added service.

Richard Falcinelli, vice president, LIU Marine Risk Engineering

Richard Falcinelli, vice president, LIU Marine Risk Engineering

“The LIU SAFE program goes beyond traditional loss control. Using specialized risk assessment tools, our risk engineers function as consultants who gather and analyze information to identify potential opportunities for improvement. We then make recommendations customized for the client’s business but that also leverage our knowledge of industry best practices,” said Richard Falcinelli, vice president, LIU Marine Risk Engineering.

It’s the combination of deep expertise, extensive industry knowledge and a global perspective that enables LIU Marine to uniquely address their client’s safety challenges. Long experience has shown the LIU Risk Engineering team that a rigid process will not be successful. The wide variety of operations and safety challenges faced by marine companies simply cannot be addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Therefore, the LIU SAFE program is defined by five core principles that form the basis of each project.

“Our underwriters, risk engineers and claims professionals leverage their years spent as master mariners, surveyors and attorneys to utilize the best project approach to address each client’s unique challenges,” said Falcinelli.

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The LIU SAFE Program in Action

When your primary business is transporting dry and liquid bulk cargo throughout the nation’s complex inland river system, safety is always a top concern.

The risks to crew, vessels and cargo are myriad and constantly changing due to weather, water conditions and many other factors.

SCF Marine, a St. Louis-based inland river tug and barge transportation company and part of the Inland River Services business unit of SEACOR Holdings Inc., understands what it takes to operate successfully in these conditions. The company strives for a zero incident operating environment and invests significant time and money in pursuit of that goal.

SponsoredContent_LIUBut when it comes to marine safety, all experienced mariners know that no one person or company has all the answers. So in an effort to continually find ways to improve, SCF management approached McGriff, Seibels & Williams, its marine broker, to see if LIU Marine would be willing to provide their input through an operational review and risk assessment.

The goal of the engagement was clear: SCF wanted to confirm that it was getting the best return possible on its significant investment in safety management.

Using the LIU SAFE framework, LIU’s Risk Engineers began by sending SCF a detailed document request. The requested information covered many aspects of the SCF operation, including recruiting and hiring practices, navigation standards, watch standing procedures, vessel maintenance standards and more.

Following several weeks of document review the LIU team drafted its preliminary report. Next, LIU organized a collaborative meeting at SCF’s headquarters with all of the latter’s senior staff, along with McGriff brokers and LIU underwriters. Each SCF manager gave an overview of their area of responsibility and LIU’s preliminary findings were reviewed in depth. The day ended with a site visit and vessel tour.

“We sent our follow-up report after the meeting and McGriff let us know that it was well received by SCF,” Falcinelli said. “SCF is so focused on safety; we are confident that they will use the information gained from this exercise to further benefit their employees and stakeholders.”

“It was probably one of the most comprehensive efforts that I’ve ever seen undertaken by a carrier’s loss control team,” said Baxter Southern, executive vice president at McGriff, which also is based in St. Louis. “Through the collaborative efforts of all three parties, it was determined that SCF had the right approach and implementation. The process generated some excellent new concepts for implementation as the company grows.”

In addition to the benefits of these new concepts, LIU gained a much deeper understanding of SCF’s operations and is better positioned to provide ongoing loss control support.

“Effective safety management is about being focused and continuously improving, which requires complete commitment from top management,” Falcinelli added. “SCF obviously is on a quest for safety excellence with zero incidents as the goal, and has passed that philosophy down to its entire workforce.”

“SCF’s commitment to the process along with LIU’s expertise was certainly impressive and a key reason for the successful outcome,” Southern concluded.

There are many other ways that the SAFE program can help clients address safety risks. To learn more about how your company could benefit, contact your broker or LIU Marine.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty International Underwriters. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




LIU is part of the Global Specialty Division of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
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