December 29, 2011

Five Defining Events for The IIA in 2011

It is hard to believe that another year is coming to a close and we are preparing to ring in 2012! 

I always find this time of year to be a great period for reflection. I hope you will indulge me as I contemplate what 2011 has meant for The IIA. In many ways, 2011 was a year of new initiatives and new heights for The Institute, globally. We entered the year with a myriad of new ideas, but with resource limitations that threatened to constrain our abilities. Thanks to the extraordinary hard work of many, and a series of fortunate events, we are now looking at a year in which we will have posted record financial performance and record membership results worldwide. We…

December 5, 2011

Five Things Not to Say During an Internal Audit Entrance Conference

If you have been in internal auditing for a few years, you’ve probably seen it happen. When you start your entrance conference, everything is going smoothly. You’ve prepared carefully for the meeting, and yo​u have cordial relationships with your audit clients. Suddenly, however, your clients are frowning, and communications seem to have become a one-way street. It’s almost as if a door had closed. Management’s arms are crossed defensively, and they no longer seem to want to agree with anything you say. At times, you might not even be aware of why the change took place — you only know that the chance for open communications and sharing of ideas seems to be fading away.…

November 17, 2011

Five Signals That Your Last Internal Audit Hit a Home Run

I think internal auditing can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. But let’s face it — no matter how good you are at your job, it’s not likely that people drop by your office each day just to tell you how much they loved your ​last audit. Still, there are unmistakable signs that your last audit was a big success. Here are a few of my favorite indicators that an internal audit report hit a home run.

  1. Your audit committee specifically asks for you to brief the members on your last audit.
    At most organizations, the chief audit executive regularly attends audit committee meetings, but other auditors are less likely to attend the meetings. If
November 9, 2011

Should Internal Audit Be More Transparent?

I talk to quite a few members of the press in my travels for The Institute, and most of the time the questions are fairly similar. Recently, though, I was asked a new question: “Are you concerned that there is n​ot enough transparency in internal auditing?” The reporter’s concern was that, with a few exceptions, corporate internal audit reports are not available to shareholders or other outside stakeholders. ​

My personal belief is that our role is to provide support to key stakeholders within the organization and that our reports should not be routinely available to the public. I’m not suggesting that it’s not appropriate for government internal audit reports to be publicly available.…

October 27, 2011

Chief Audit Executives Have Never Been Stronger!

Let’s cut to the chase! The past decade has seen a rise in stature of the internal audit profession that is unparalleled in its history. Leading the way have been the men and women who led internal audit functions in enterprises around the world. In the past few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know many of them and the departments they lead. I am confident when I say that the ov​erall caliber of chief audit executives (CAEs) in 2011 has never been stronger! 

I have been in the internal audit profession long enough to remember when there was still a grain of truth in the stereotype that accountants and auditors, by nature, were bean counters who hovered over 16-column spreadsheets.…

October 21, 2011

Ten Things Not to Say in an Internal Audit Report

I’ll never forget my seventh-grade English teacher telling us, “It’s not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Obviously she was exaggerating, but the point still stands: How we say things can make a difference. A well-written audit report should be a call to action, but a poorly written report can result in inappropriate action or in no action at all. In some cases, poor report writing can ruin working relationships or actively harm an auditor’s reputation. Little things can mean a lot, and at times, a minor change to how a recommendation is worded can make all the difference in how our suggestions are received.…

October 13, 2011

Internal Auditors: Let’s Practice What We Preach

There will be no false modesty in today’s blog. Let’s admit it: At most organizations, internal auditors are the unparalleled experts at internal controls. We work tirelessly to ensure management maintains up-to-date written policies and procedures. We encourage our audit clients to share ideas on best practices between different operating divisions. We promote good governance, advocate transparency, and, of course, extol the benefits of having internal audits. We know we are agents for positive change.​​​

Unfortunately, I am starting to wonder if we are like the cobbler whose children go barefoot. Despite all our advice, despite a robust body of professional guidance, despite advice from just about every internal audit expert you can find … today’s internal audit shops are not always models of strong internal controls.…

October 3, 2011

How Many Auditors Did It Take Last Year?

When I hear jokes about internal auditors, usually I can just laugh and blow it off. After all, there are plenty of jokes about doctors and lawyers and pointy-headed bosses, so why shouldn’​​t jokes be told about us? I attend quite a few audit conferences, and I’m used to the occasional joke about how internal auditors are heartless, or how we have dry personalities, or even how (dare I say it?) we “get in the way” when people are trying to do “productive” work. Once in a while, though, a joke strikes a little too close to home. ​

I was at a conference in Canada last week, and a speaker asked, “How many internal auditors does it take to screw in a light bulb?”…

September 8, 2011

Generating a Big Impact With a Small Audit Staff – Part II

In my last blog post I discussed how often CAEs of small audit shops lament about the challenges of working with limited resources, and I expanded on three of six strategies I recommend for generating a “big impact” with a small staff. I’ve talked about the impact you can make by following the risk, leveraging the resources you do have, and benchmarking your success. But there are three more strategies that I’ve found can mean the difference between just another audit and making a lasting difference for the organization and a lasting impression on your stakeholders.​

Strategy #4: Improve Internal Audit Processes
Some of the biggest impediments to internal audit productivity are ineffective and inefficient processes.…

September 6, 2011

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

I had an incredible experience today while preparing to unveil The IIA’s new Hall of Presidents. I was reflecting on the contributions made by The Institute’s past presidents, and it was literally overwhelming to realize just how much difference these eight individuals have made on internal auditing since Bradford Cadmus was appointed the first full-time managing director in 1947.

To me, Brad is a personal hero because he represents the joy that can be found in working at The IIA. (Yes, it really can be a joy to work in your chosen profession.) Imagine assuming leadership of a new association, holding its first conference, growing membership to more than 5,000 people.…