Earlier this year the IIA opened a new route to becoming a chartered internal auditor. Called Chartered by Experience (CBE), it is aimed at those with significant experience in internal audit, usually at head of internal audit (HIA) level. Before attending a interview they must submit a written application demonstrating wide and varied experience in the role. The route bypasses the exams but, according to both assessors and the first candidates, it is certainly not a shoo-in.
Sarah Blackburn, former IIA president and CBE assessor, took her IIA exams in her presidential year. “We don’t differentiate between those who come in from different backgrounds with other qualifications. It’s the end, not the route, that’s important,” she says.
The written statement by candidates gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their experience of various aspects of internal audit leadership and knowledge of the IIA Standards and is divided into five sections, similar to the exam syllabus.
The interview is conducted by two assessors plus a representative from the institute’s qualifications team. The candidate is asked to give a presentation, and then is questioned in detail to explore any possible gaps or ambiguous areas.
“We want to see how they deal with many situations and technical areas, and the extent of their all-round high level of competence. It’s aimed more at the kinds of things you need to know to lead internal audit, such as managing and resourcing teams, developing strategy, and liaising with senior management,” says Chris Butler, assessor and member of the IIA professional development committee. “It’s not just a question of experience. The sort of person we are looking for has thought deeply about the Standards, and how they can improve their organisation’s response to ensure they are fully effective as an internal audit leader.”
Ian Whybrow, head of internal audit at Vanquis Bank, and Niall Kelly, head of internal audit at An Garda Síochána (Irish Police Service), both went through the process this spring. Whybrow had passed his PIIA exams in 2002, but then moved organisation and had no time to study. When he heard about CBE, he called the IIA to discuss it.
“I found the interview tough,” he says. “You can learn answers for an exam. In an interview you say ‘I can do that’, but then you have to provide proof. I don’t believe
anyone could fake it if they didn’t know their stuff.”
“You have to know the Standards back to front to get through the application stage,” he adds. “Then you need to demonstrate you understand how to apply them.”
Kelly was already looking for advice on taking the qualification – his organisation has affiliate group membership of the IIA – when he heard about the CBE route. He has spent 14 years in internal audit in government departments and agencies, and completed an MSc in innovation in the public sector in 2006. “I wanted to show I was at that standard and keep on top of professional development – I was slightly embarrassed at IIA events admitting I was not a chartered member,” he says.
As with Whybrow, he found his 10-minute presentation was followed by an intense but stimulating discussion lasting more than an hour. “It felt like a tough job interview,” he says. “It made me go back to the Standards, and benchmark myself and the way we do our job here against them and against government structures for internal audit.”
He says he would recommend CBE to others in a similar position, “but you need to be at a level where you really can provide all the evidence of your experience”.
Whybrow adds that he thought it was important to become fully recognised for his considerable experience. His team recently did an external quality assessment, and he felt that he owed it to them to be as good as he could be. “I didn’t want to be someone who rests on their laurels, quoting a qualification they did years ago.”
Click here to find out more about CBE.