February 2021

February 21, 2021

Why Do They Think Internal Auditors Are Looking for Problems?

Last week, the globally popular business comic strip “Dilbert” took on management’s perception of/reaction to internal auditors. Like all Dilbert strips, there is enough truth in the punchline to grab our attention and be provocative. I must admit that I smiled. I certainly encountered management officials who didn’t want me, or my internal audit team, poking around in their departments. But we always reached some agreement.

After my initial amusement at the comic strip, I asked myself: Why does management so frequently assume that we are just there to “find problems?” I even had managers look me in the eye and say, “I know you have to find something wrong to justify the audit.”…

February 15, 2021

It’s Hard for Internal Auditors to “Follow the Risks” When There Is No Consensus

One of the persistent challenges internal auditors face is finding alignment with stakeholders on the risks that most threaten their organizations. For many years, I have written about the importance of building relationships with those we work for and with to nurture communications that support alignment. Indeed, the most common advice I’ve offered to chief audit executives (CAEs) over the years is “know what is keeping our stakeholders up at night” and “follow the risks.”

A recently published report from Protiviti and the North Carolina State University ERM Initiative helps shed light on that alignment (or misalignment). Executive Perspectives on Top Risks: Key Issues Being Discussed in the Boardroom and C-suite (PDF) examines risks facing organizations in 2021 and beyond as seen by a wide variety of respondents, from board members to every position that makes up the C-suite, including CAEs.…

February 7, 2021

How Do You Answer, “What Do Internal Auditors Do?”

Shortly before the onset of the pandemic, my wife and I moved to a different part of Florida. Living in a new community can be rewarding because you meet new people and make new friends. As you get acquainted with others, the inevitable question arises: “What do you do for work?”

Obviously, I could say I am a CEO or an association executive. But I still instinctively (and proudly) proclaim that “I am an internal auditor!”

The first reaction is often a joke, such as “please don’t audit my taxes,” or “I’ll bet you are popular at work.” I can’t help but remember a live radio interview I did several years ago.…