In the past year, the Chartered IIA has embarked on some substantial changes to its professional qualifications; adopting IIA Global’s CIA and QIAL qualifications, developing new supporting courses and revising its continuing professional education requirements. However, the basics have not changed – the Chartered Internal Auditor (CMIIA) designation continues to be a stamp of professionalism and expertise and, as such, is still the title to which internal auditors should aspire.
Achieving the designation cannot – and should not – be made easier, whoever you work for, but there are ways in which the logistics of putting several employees through the process can be eased and the benefits for both the internal auditors and their organisations maximised. Any organisation eager to put a number of staff through the institute’s qualifications should talk to the Chartered IIA to find out more about the options available.
Citigroup, for example, has developed a close working relationship with both IIA Global and the Chartered IIA over the past few years. The global financial institution has transformed its internal audit function from just over 600 internal auditors to more than 2,000 personnel in about 60 locations worldwide. This transformation was accompanied by an equally far-reaching training and development programme aimed at ensuring that all of its internal auditing staff were qualified and working to the same consistent and common standards no matter where they are based.
An important part of this has been to establish closer, more formal links with the institute, which has accredited Citigroup’s foundation training programme and works with the organisation to help it prepare and support employees at different qualification levels. Most recently, 20 of Citigroup’s senior internal auditors gained chartered status through the institute’s Chartered by Experience (CBE) process.
Jen Wright, head of learning and development at Citi Internal Audit, explains that the bank believes it gains many benefits from its relationship with the IIA. “We have one of the largest internal audit teams in the world and many people who join us as one of our heads of internal audit have come from leading large teams in other organisations around the world, so they have lots of experience. This is why the Chartered by Experience route was perfect for us,” she explains. “Some of the people we selected to go through this process already had a number of professional qualifications, but not necessarily in internal audit.”
Putting people forward for this designation not only recognises their talents and expertise, but also means that the bank demonstrates its commitment to ensuring that all members of the internal audit team – whether they join as junior auditors in one of their first jobs or as a senior manager, and whether they have just joined the company or have worked for it for many years – have relevant qualifications and continue to develop their knowledge. Wright says that it also opened the eyes of some internal audit managers to the value of the institute’s professional designation.
“One benefit that attracted me was that the qualifications are recognised both in the UK and globally,” Wright says. This global relevance is important to Citigroup. “The members we’ve just put through the Chartered by Experience process came from several different parts of the internal audit team and from the UK, Ireland, North America, Mexico, Japan and Latin America,” Wright says. “We are a global company and we want our team to plug into the global internal audit community. Someone may work in Mexico at the moment, but they are still part of a global group and a global profession.”
The international credibility of the internal audit team is important to Citigroup, but there are other less formal benefits that Wright also believes they gain from maintaining a close relationship with professional bodies, including the institute. “We can all benefit from developing contacts with the institute, partly because of the support it can give us, but also because of the networking opportunities it provides. It helps us to find out what’s going on elsewhere in the sector, both through its own guidance, training and advice, but also because it facilitates sector groups and conferences, so our internal auditors can meet their peers in other organisations and find out what challenges they are facing and how they are reacting to them.”
When Citi put the most recent group of 20 internal auditors through the Chartered by Experience process, Wright says it was particularly helpful that most of the assessments were carried out in Citi’s own London offices. This meant that senior managers did not have to take a day out of their jobs to attend assessments – they just scheduled a meeting in their own offices. This is unusual, but demonstrates ways in which the institute can help organisations if they are committing large numbers to gaining qualifications. Wright says the gesture was much appreciated, although she adds that staff and assessors at the institute have always been flexible and helpful about finding ways to make provision of its services to Citigroup’s internal audit team as straightforward and cost-effective as possible.
“Every quarter Mark Carawan, chief auditor at Citigroup, holds an event at which he congratulates all the people in the team who have gained new qualifications. We hope this will inspire others to do the same,” Wright says. Citigroup may be exceptional because of the size of its internal audit team, but its determination to ensure that all those people are qualified, and the benefits it believes it gains from this, should also inspire other organisations. The institute would be happy to hear from other organisations eager to boost their qualifications and find out more about what it can offer to support the development of their teams and the profession.
Click here for more about the institute’s Chartered by Experience process.