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Turning Up the Heat in Internal Audit – Part 2

By Jason Rohlf

Greetings from the Governance, Risk and Controls Conferences in sunny (hot) Phoenix! This is my second article in a three-part series on shaping the future of the internal audit profession. (Click here if you missed part 1.)

One of the biggest (and most welcome) changes recently announced by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is the introduction of the Core Principles for the Professional Practice of Internal Audit. These ten principles clearly establish the benchmark against which all internal audit departments and professionals will be expected to gauge their overall effectiveness, and they set a clear expectation about what constitutes “effective internal audit.”

When I read through these principles, I noted that some of them called attention to concepts that are embedded in existing standards (i.e., integrity, due professional care, effective communication) while others seem to be in direct response to shifting professional expectations. For example, they state that effective internal audit:

  • Aligns with the strategies, objectives and risks of the organization
  • Demonstrates quality and continuous improvement
  • Provides risk-based assurance
  • Is insightful, proactive and future-focused

I chose to call out these four principles because they speak to a pressing issue facing the internal audit profession. A strictly backward-looking, compliance-focused internal audit department can no longer be considered effective, and the IIA’s guidance should serve as a much-needed wakeup call for departments and professionals who continue to operate in this manner.

These particular principles from the IIA set the expectation that effective internal auditors have a strong understanding of their organization, its business practices and the ever-changing risks and opportunities that it faces. For many professionals, this shift will require them to obtain new skills and adopt different perspectives. This shift may be difficult for some to accept, but it is necessary for all, and I would venture to guess that this is welcome news to boards of directors and senior management across the globe.

I personally believe that the IIA has done right by the profession. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many IA professionals who have seen this shift coming and have positioned themselves in a way that will allow them to seamlessly adopt these principles. To me, demonstrating a willingness to adapt and improve while staying true to your core precepts is a recipe for professional success.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share what we’re doing at Onspring help internal auditors excel in an evolving profession. Now back to the conference!

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