Internal control system
Paralleling the risk management system, the Schaeffler Group has a system of internal controls over financial reporting (ICS) ensuring the accuracy of the accounting system and the related financial reporting.
Like the risk management system, the Schaeffler Group’s ICS is conceptually based on a COSO Framework. The components defined in the Framework are applied to all levels of the group, especially including the compilation of the separate and consolidated financial statements of Schaeffler AG.
The financial statement information reported by Schaeffler AG and its subsidiaries via a uniform groupwide chart of accounts represents the base data for the compilation of the separate and consolidated financial statements. Many subsidiaries receive support from an internal shared service organization in this process. The Schaeffler Group obtains assistance from external specialists in dealing with certain complex issues requiring extensive specialized knowledge (such as the valuation of pension obligations).
Conceptual and process-related requirements and deadlines as well as analyses and reasonability checks at group and company level ensure that the separate and consolidated financial statements of Schaeffler AG are compiled, prepared, and issued in accordance with the law, to a high level of quality, and on time.
The following significant features of the system of internal controls over financial reporting have been implemented within the Schaeffler Group as part of this process:
- An accounting manual sets out uniform accounting policies, taking into account new IFRS financial reporting standards required to be applied for the first time.
- Closing instructions issued quarterly provide Schaeffler AG subsidiaries with information on all relevant issues regarding the content as well as the processes and deadlines for compiling the financial statements.
- Tasks and responsibilities regarding the compilation of the separate and consolidated financial statements are clearly defined and assigned.
- The operating units and the various staff members involved in the process stay in close contact on matters concerning accounting, financial statement compilation, and quality assurance with respect to financial statement compilation.
The process for compiling the separate and consolidated financial statements itself is secured by numerous control activities, taking into account materiality. In particular, these include extensive systems-based reasonability checks, controls using reviews (by a second member of staff) performed on a regular basis, and analyses and reasonability checks of the quarterly and annual consolidated financial statements at the corporate level.
As at each year-end, management assesses the appropriateness and effectiveness of the ICS in place. To this end, the Schaeffler Group uses a standardized methodology to identify the group companies and processes relevant to ICS, define the required controls, and document them in accordance with uniform requirements. This is then followed up with a review of the effectiveness of the defined controls that is performed using a risk-based approach, either by the reporting unit itself, by internal audit, or as part of the audit of the consolidated financial statements. This review involves evaluating and assessing risks as well as reporting on them to management with the relevant responsibility at all organizational levels of the companies and the group. Where control weaknesses exist, actions to eliminate these weaknesses have to be defined.
Regardless of the assessed level of the Schaeffler Group’s internal control system, the effectiveness of any internal control system is inherently limited. No control system, no matter how effective, can prevent or detect all inaccuracies.
These arrangements as well as their continuous improvement are designed to provide reasonable assurance that the ICS prevents significant misstatements of the financial statements and consolidated financial statements and to ensure quality standards are maintained in compilation, preparation, and issuance.
The Board of Managing Directors considers the system of internal controls over the compilation of the annual and consolidated financial statements of Schaeffler AG to be effective for 2017.