This edition of my blog is being written as I visit Tokyo, where I will be addressing more than 100 internal audit professionals as part of a series of IIA events throughout Asia. What I am witnessing at each stop in my journey is true enthusiasm for our profession throughout Asia, with lively debate and sharing of ideas that are crucial to the advancement of internal audit knowledge. But there also is new excitement about our profession here that is evident not just in the number of people attending seminars and conferences, but also in the faces and attitudes of the internal auditors I meet.
I marvel at just how much internal auditing has evolved in Asia during the past 15 years. Before 2000, we at IIA Global Headquarters heard relatively little regarding internal auditors in Asia. From 1973 to 1999, 357 individuals in China, Japan, and South Korea received professional certification through The IIA. But since 2000, more than a half-million certification examination parts have been taken in this region, and tens of thousands of professionals have earned the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) or other IIA certifications. IIA membership across Asia is also on the rise, growing 15 percent since 2012.
There is little doubt that our profession is thriving in Asia, and budgets and staffing are on the upswing, as well. From 2013 to 2014, internal audit staffing levels increased at almost 30 percent of organizations in Asia, according to The IIA Audit Executive Center’s Pulse of the Profession study. That’s more than three times more than the number of organizations where internal audit staffing decreased. Internal audit budgets also went up nearly three times as often as they fell.
I believe there is good reason for the rapid advancement of internal auditing in Asia. It’s attributable to the dedication of internal auditors working together in the spirit of The IIA’s motto, Progress Through Sharing. For example, this year, IIA–China produced a Chinese simplified version of COSO 2013. That followed a COSO translation by IIA–Chinese Taiwan in 2013. As well, IIA–Chinese Taiwan has even formed a team to translate my book, Lessons Learned on the Audit Trail, which came out only this year.
In the spirit of Progress Through Sharing, IIA–Chinese Taiwan has also invited IIA–China to participate in its 2015 Annual Conference, which will be held in Taipei. This spirit of cooperation and collaboration is only one example of efforts seen throughout the Asia Pacific region, where the Asian Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (ACIIA) promotes ongoing sharing of ideas and partnerships toward advancing our profession among its IIA affiliates — Australia, Azerbaijan, China, Fiji, Hong Kong China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taiwan, and Thailand.
I believe that internal auditors in Asia are serving their stakeholders better than ever. A decade ago, a press release from PwC in Singapore stated, “The fact that internal audit functions in the Asia Pacific region are not as advanced as their U.S. counterparts is strongly reflected by the survey results dealing with stakeholder dynamics.” Based on what I am seeing, that statement may no longer be true. Some of the most sophisticated internal audit functions in the world may now be located in this region. Throughout Asia, dedicated internal auditors are demonstrating their value, and management and boards of directors are taking notice. That’s why internal audit budgets are holding their own or growing despite an uncertain economic environment.
So, to all the dedicated internal auditors working throughout Asia, congratulations. Your hard work is paying off, and you serve as an example to us all.