Thursday, July 25, 2013

Audit yourself, not just your business

I had a great time answering terrific questions yesterday on Patricia and David Wangsness' radio program.  (The show will be rebroadcast on Sunday at 1pm on AM1590, and I will eventually be able to post the broadcast link on our website.)

We covered everything from earthquake preparedness, to RFID chips in credit cards and drivers' licenses,  to what happens to your digital identity (all those blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ posts) when you die.  The most interesting question came from David, who had read Emily Oxenford's excellent research note about conducting "information audits" on businesses in Reflections on Risk.  How would you conduct an information audit on your family, he asked?

When we do such audits (assessments) for clients, we pull a variety of data upon which to base our due diligence:  policies, standards, codes of ethics or codes of conduct, brand statements made in print or online.  We ask for copies of any audit findings or regulatory critiques.  Then we interview a sample population, ranging from the person who has to decide how to perform a certain type of work with or without guidance, to the manager that employee reports to, to the executive in charge of the division as well.  When we're on site, we're also tracking another relatively undefinable cultural quality:  do employees respect the executives in charge of the company?  Do they believe that the executives practice what they preach?  Our final report reflects the cultural conclusion we have come to as well as the data points, complete with recommendations for improvements

So how to translate this over to the personal side?  The first chapter of my book does deal with what pieces of information you should be able to put your hands on, no matter what type of loss or disaster you may have suffered.  Here's the basic list, for those who haven't yet read the book.  There are other recommendations on what I might add to that list, but it's entirely possible to audit your own family to see if you can find these vital documents and determine whether or not they need to be updated.

 Home & auto policies
 Driver’s license
 Credit cards
Health insurance
 Immunization records
Other medical information if relevant
Wills and medical directivesBank-account numbers
Inventory list of stocks & bonds
 Household contents inventory
 Family records (birth and marriage licenses)

       Thanks again to David and Patricia for their good questions yesterday!  Every time I go out and speak, I get questions that show me just how much more there is to know about good personal risk management.

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