In a recent blog, I shared insights on the newly published PwC Global Internal Audit Study 2023: Seeing Through Walls to Find New Horizons. In the introduction, I noted that more global insights on the internal audit profession were on the way. Thanks to the Internal Audit Foundation and IIA regional affiliates around the world, we now have the most comprehensive global snapshot of internal audit trends since 2015!
For years, the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA) has been highlighting “hot topics for internal auditors” in its annual “Risk in Focus Report.” I have written often about the valuable insights generated by the ECIIA. For the first time, this year The IIA’s global network collaborated to expand the ECIIA survey and reporting model to afford regional and global views of key trends and outlook.
Facilitated by the Internal Audit Foundation, the 2024 Risk in Focus report was undertaken simultaneously by The IIA in North America and five regional bodies (ACIIA (Asia), AFIIA (Africa), ARABCIIA (Middle East), ECIIA and FLAI (Latin America). For those of us long focused on global trends in the profession, the effort doesn’t disappoint.
I encourage internal auditors around the world to peruse the report. However, it’s the 2024 Risk in Focus Global Summary that caught my attention. More than 4,200 internal audit practitioners from 111 countries and territories took part in the survey, and I found some remarkable consistency in how they see risks and where they plan to focus internal audit efforts in 2024. As the report notes in its introduction: “The strong consensus about risk and audit effort in many areas (of the world) is a testament to the strength of the shared standards of the internal audit profession.”
When asked what are the top five risks organizations currently face, the consensus globally was:
Not surprisingly, the top answer in every region was cybersecurity. But consistency wasn’t limited to there. The top three risks globally also ranked among the top five in each of the six regions. Even “regulatory change” ranked in the top five in four of the six regions. As the regional lists round out, there are some differences, but I believe they reflect the heightened risks by region, for example, fraud in Africa and geopolitical uncertainty in Europe.
When the survey turned its attention to internal audit’s focus, The report notes that survey results are also “remarkably similar.” The top areas of audit effort worldwide were:
There were a few differences in areas of audit focus by region, according to the report:
Looking ahead, the report projects the risks that will garner the most additional internal audit coverage in three years will be digital disruption (from ranking 10th to ranking second) and climate change (from 14th to seventh).
So, what does the global consistency in the report tell us? First, it’s reaffirmation that, in a globally connected marketplace, most risks are, in fact, global. Second, I believe it asserts the global nature of the internal audit profession and is further evidence that the profession is following the key risks in an unprecedented era of “permacrisis” that has come to define the 2020s.
I applaud the Internal Audit Foundation for this year’s “Risk In Focus” effort, and encourage it to further expand the scope of global surveys going forward. The IIA’s Risk in Focus Resource Page provides a link to each of the regional reports, for those wanting to dig deeper into the trends where they practice.
I welcome your thoughts on this important survey, and what it tells us about our profession and the global outlook for risks in the year ahead. Share your comments on LinkedIn or X (formerly known as Twitter), or drop an email to me at email@example.com.