What are the three lines of defence?


The Three Lines of Defence model is a widely recognised framework used in risk management and internal control practices within organisations. It helps delineate the roles and responsibilities of different parts of an organisation in managing and mitigating risks. The model is often used to ensure that risk management efforts are well-coordinated and that risks are identified and addressed effectively.

Here’s an overview of the three lines of defence:

First Line of Defence: Operational Management

The first line of defence consists of the operational teams, departments, and individuals directly involved in carrying out the organisation’s core activities. These individuals are responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing risks within their day-to-day processes. They are at the front lines of risk management, implementing controls, and ensuring that operations are conducted in accordance with established policies and procedures.

Second Line of Defence: Risk Management and Compliance

The second line of defence comprises risk management, compliance, and control functions that oversee and support the first line. These functions provide guidance, standards, and tools for effective risk management. They monitor the implementation of controls, assess the effectiveness of risk management processes, and provide necessary expertise to help operational teams manage risks. They also ensure that the organisation’s activities comply with applicable laws, regulations, and internal policies.

Third Line of Defence: Internal Audit

The third line of defence is internal audit, an independent function that provides objective assurance and evaluates the effectiveness of the first and second lines of defence. Internal audit assesses the quality of risk management, internal controls, and governance processes. This function helps to identify gaps, potential weaknesses, and areas for improvement in risk management practices. Internal auditors report their findings to senior management and the board of directors.

The Three Lines of Defence model promotes a structured approach to risk management and helps prevent a concentration of risk management responsibilities in a single part of the organization. This separation of responsibilities and oversight enhances accountability, transparency, and the overall effectiveness of risk management efforts. By aligning various parts of the organization around risk management, the model supports the achievement of strategic objectives while safeguarding the organization from potential risks and uncertainties.

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This blog has been written with the aid of software, including search engines, and writing tools, then checked by our team prior to release. It is general in nature.

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