This week I am attending the Asian Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditors (ACIIA) Conference in Sydney, Australia. It is always exciting and richly rewarding to participate in conferences that are as professionally organized and thought-provoking as this event. By combining the Southern Pacific and Asia Conference (SOPAC) with the annual ACIIA conference, IIA–Australia has managed to attract almost 1,000 professionals to this year’s event.
During this morning’s opening keynote address, a series of questions were posted on an overhead screen and attendees were invited to “text in” their responses. The results of the responses to one question in particular have caused me to reflect on an undercurrent that seems to be in place following the recent corporate failures and the resulting global financial crisis.
The question was simple: “As an in-house internal auditor, would you be more assertive if you were not hired and funded by management?” The results were quite revealing. Sixty-three percent of those who responded said “yes.” The question did not factor in the potential role of an audit committee in mitigating the risks of potential retaliation by management against the internal auditor. However, the results were further evidence of a concern that many internal auditors feel about their ability to “call it like it is.”
As I noted in a recent blog post, “independence” is an organizational attribute while “objectivity” is a personal attribute. I am becoming increasingly troubled by the indication that some of our colleagues are insinuating their objectivity may be impaired by their reporting relationships to management. I would be interested in your views.