Five Dilemmas Every Internal Auditor Will FaceApril 3, 2012
Six Common Mistakes That Will Derail an Internal AuditApril 16, 2012
It’s that time of year again — the time of year when most of the important surveys about internal auditing seem to be published by way of white papers. Of course, I am particularly partial to the Pulse of the Profession (PDF) survey from The IIA’s Audit Executive Center, but several other new surveys also contain significant information for internal auditors. The only problem is that if you’re like most folks in internal auditing, there’s no way you can find time to read the results of every survey about the profession. To make life a little easier, I thought it would be helpful to summarize some of the key findings and common observations we’re seeing in the most recent round of surveys. If you have time to read all of the reports, great! Otherwise, here are just a few of the highlights from this year’s crop of thought leadership:
- Audit coverage in 2012 may not be reflective of our stakeholders’ areas of concern. The IIA’s survey results point out that internal audit plans appear to be addressing some of the key risks identified by boards, audit committees, and senior management in numerous recent studies, but the prioritization and allocation of internal audit resources in several areas may not align with the priorities of management and the board. For example, coverage of strategic business risks and risk management effectiveness remains low despite their impact on the corporate sector in recent years. In other areas, internal audit may be overestimating risks. For example, the 2012 State of the Internal Audit Profession Study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which also indicated potential misalignment of priorities, notes that 53 percent of stakeholders feel confident about their organization’s management of risks associated with fraud and ethics, but only 35 percent of chief audit executives (CAEs) share their confidence. The report observes, “For internal audit to be truly effective, an organization must create a culture whereby stakeholders and CAEs hold robust dialogue around enterprise risks, share their objective perspectives, and reach a common viewpoint on the role of internal audit around the most critical risks.”
- There is significant room for improvement in our use of technology. According to the 2012 Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey by Protiviti, “Internal audit appears to be behind other departments in terms of using technology. Many internal audit functions are not using software tools to administer their audit processes, and among those that are, most are not leveraging these tools to their fullest extent.” In Grant Thornton’s Rising to New Challenges survey of CAEs, half of the respondents acknowledge their organizations do not use governance, risk, and compliance (GRC)-specific technology effectively. Although internal auditors’ use of data analytics and continuous auditing continues to grow, obstacles such as cost and time to deploy seem to be hampering our ability to use technology to carry out our missions.
- It’s time to look at our interpersonal skills. According to the Protiviti survey, networking effectively and developing outside contacts are problem areas for CAEs and internal audit professionals seeking to stay apprised of leading tools and best practices. Other skills receiving “need to improve” rankings include negotiation, persuasion, and dealing with confrontation.
- Audit committees are increasingly signaling support for their CAEs and are exercising greater oversight and interaction with the internal audit team. As the PwC survey points out, “Stakeholders do want internal audit at the table.” The IIA’s survey indicates that there is open dialogue and a two-way flow of regular communication between audit committees and CAEs, and at 84 percent of surveyed organizations, the audit committees ensure that the CAE is receiving appropriate support and cooperation from management.
- If you see internal audit as a stepping stone for your career, you are not alone. The PwC survey points out that staff rotation is helping companies leverage resources when talent is scarce. Grant Thornton’s survey states that although many CAEs view their post as a final destination on their career path, 56 percent see internal audit as a grooming place for future leadership roles elsewhere in their organizations. According to one respondent, “Internal audit is becoming a place where leaders are made.”