Audit & Risk

Is internal auditing the coolest profession in the world?

“My ears perked up at the IIA’s recent International Conference in Orlando when Tom Peters declared in his keynote address that internal auditing ‘has got to be the coolest profession in the world’,” says Richard Chambers, president and CEO of IIA Global.

in Features.

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I have long been of the opinion that internal auditing is one of the most interesting jobs around. However, I suspect that’s not a widely held belief outside the profession. So you can bet my ears perked up at the IIA’s recent International Conference in Orlando, Florida, when management guru Tom Peters, author of the best-seller In Search of Excellence, declared in his keynote address that internal auditing “has got to be the coolest profession in the world.”

Hyperbole aside, Peters proclaimed what many of us in the profession have been saying for some time: there’s virtually nothing we can’t dive into, nothing we don’t touch or shouldn’t be able to touch, to help our organisations. What we do adds value and protects our organisations from fatal fraud and business risks. It’s a job that’s important, intellectually stimulating, diverse and interesting. Considering these same words are often used to describe great novels and screenplays, I’d say Peters is right. Internal auditing is (or can be) the coolest profession in the world. 

IIA Global is constantly raising the bar to elevate the professionalism of its members and elevate the IIA as an organisation and the practice of internal auditing. These goals manifest themselves in the prolific production of guidance, services, education and resources. The new Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) is a good example. We also use cutting-edge communications techniques — including social media, webinars, online videos, and digital downloads — to keep our members around the world informed and engaged. 

It’s evident that you are working just as hard to advance the profession, expand your skill sets, increase your value and align your audit plans with board priorities to include a more diverse and strategic focus on the emerging areas of governance, risk management, compliance and technology. In fact, less than 25 per cent of internal auditors’ time is now spent auditing financial controls, according to the IIA’s 2013 Global Pulse of the Profession survey. 

That speaks volumes. 

As we evolve beyond our roots in financial controls, we are recruiting more diverse and dynamic talent. Chief audit executives are no longer looking only for graduates with accounting degrees. In fact, the same survey found that only about a quarter of new entrants to the internal audit profession come from an accounting background. Instead, today’s internal audit job postings are apt to require non-traditional skills.

The study found that the top five attributes sought by chief audit executives are:

  1. Critical thinking.
  2. Communications.
  3. Risk-management assurance.
  4. IT.
  5. Data mining/analytics.

Accounting ranked sixth.

This trend may be common knowledge in the profession, but when I hear someone with the global reach and influence of Tom Peters acknowledge it — unprompted — I get excited. The fact that he even knows and understands the full range of what we do is testament to the global advocacy work we have been doing as a profession; raising awareness, through our personal interactions as well as media and government outreach about just how crucial and interesting internal auditing is.

I often use this space to challenge or exhort you to greater things. But today I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you on a job well done, to thank those of you who were able to make it to the 2013 International Conference, and to tell you how much I am looking forward to being with you at next year’s spectacular conference in London.

Richard Chambers writes a blog and tweets.

The IIA: find out more

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Outside information

Once upon a time, internal auditors started life in accountancy or IT. However today’s IAs come from a much wider range of backgrounds. We asked a diverse handful of these new auditors about their motivations, the challenges and the opportunities inherent in the change, and what expectations they bring to the role.
Words: Wilma Tulloch
Illustration: Paul Blow

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