Internal auditors around the world are providing value to their organizations in a wide variety of ways and at different levels of complexity and sophistication.
Meanwhile, businesses and governments are increasingly recognizing internal audit as being necessary to good governance.
To get a snapshot of the state of internal auditing around the globe, we asked the leaders of seven IIA institutes and two chapters to provide an overview of where the profession stands in their countries.
IIA–Australia has embarked on an advocacy program to promote the profession of internal auditing and the institute, itself. It has developed a detailed advocacy plan to enable it to encourage all levels of government in Australia to formally require that the
International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing
) be followed. One of the major challenges we face is that internal audit is still not well-understood in many quarters. One objective of the advocacy plan is to promote the internal audit brand and function and to demonstrate the value that internal audit brings to organizations. Profiling members with success stories is one way we are doing this. IIA–Australia increased its membership in 2015 to nearly 3,000 members and will look to further expand its membership and profile in 2016. The institute is looking forward to welcoming IIA members from around the globe to the 2017 International Conference in Sydney.
Jim Barbour, CIA, CRMA, CFSA
President, IIA–Toronto Chapter
In Canada, internal auditing predates the formation of the first IIA chapter outside the U.S. — in Toronto in 1944. Witness the 150th anniversary of an international Canadian bank, where the 1930s Methods and Operations was a precursor to today’s Three Lines of Defense. Today, internal audit plays a valuable role in Canada’s financial institutions and its broader public sector, and it serves as a voice for risk management and assurance. IIA–Canada actively funds and conducts research to benefit the profession and advocates it to regulators. Although corporate governance trends bode well for internal auditors, the challenge will be conducting our work in new ways, with new competencies, and with new talent that may be quite different than even in the very recent past.
Guoming Bao, CIA
In China, internal auditing is at a critical phase of development. At the end of 2014, China had nearly 63,000 internal audit functions and more than 38,000 people had acquired the Certified Internal Auditor certification. Internal audit functions, assuming the responsibility to serve the organization’s strategic objectives, have seized a great opportunity for development with the introduction of new technology and an anti-corruption campaign throughout the entire country. However, there are still challenges. For instance, there is room for improvement in auditors’ competencies; internal audit in different sectors, different areas, and different industries has developed in an uneven manner; external quality assessment of internal audit is still not a common practice; and risks posed by cybersecurity and social media are still relatively new to practitioners.
Ana Cristina Zambrano Preciado, CIA, CCSA, CRMA
In Colombia, an unexpected evolution in business has resulted in a high demand for internal auditors who have extensive knowledge of the organization and its industry and can effectively communicate using new technologies. Internal auditors are seeking to achieve increased participation in the organization’s decision-making processes. The level of professionalism in internal audit in private companies has risen. Unfortunately, a large percentage of organizations still do not understand that internal control is the responsibility of the organization and not the internal auditor. This can be seen more dramatically in the public sector. Internal audit could, in some cases, lead change, but enterprise-level initiatives require strong support from senior management and the board, and, in some other cases, depend on government regulations.
Claudelle von Eck, PHD
CEO, IIA–South Africa
Internal audit is in an interesting in-between space in South Africa. It can no longer claim to be the new kid on the block (IIA–South Africa celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014), but, relatively speaking, when compared to other professions, it is still rather young. Despite its age, the profession has made significant strides in our country. Internal audit is mandatory in the public sector, and The IIA’s Standards are included in legislation and regulation governing the public sector. Furthermore, reference is made to the Standards in our country’s corporate governance code, King III, which has been widely adopted and is compulsory for companies listed on the stock exchange. This has resulted in the profession evolving and growing at a rapid rate. Much work still needs to be done in educating the stakeholders of internal audit — all while the profession is in the process of taking the next quantum leap to becoming indispensable guardians of governance.
Javier Faleato, CIA, CCSA, CRMA
Internal auditing is more popular in Spain today, and it is practiced more intelligently. Unlike in the past, internal audit functions exist in all types of organizations. Internal audit professionals are promoted to other top management positions, helping to spread internal control and risk management knowledge throughout the organization. All of this has happened only over the past few years. Internal auditors face new challenges ahead. Key topics such as auditing culture and cybersecurity will demand stronger and less traditional skills, where evidence will sometimes be substituted with more subjective, but convincing judgment. All of this makes our profession more exciting than ever.
United Arab Emirates
Abdulqader Obaid Ali, CRMA, QIAL
President, UAE Internal Auditors Association
Most organizations now have internal audit departments, even within the government in the UAE. Senior management looks to internal audit for assistance and guidance. And, it is a healthy sign that the nation’s leadership is recognizing the importance of the profession. There has been a ministerial decree from UAE Prime Minister HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum requiring ministries to have internal audit functions. This has given a boost to the profession and has driven the UAE Internal Auditors Association to launch HASAAD, a special program to develop and give a platform to UAE nationals to enter the internal audit mainstream. Nevertheless, new and different forms of communication and ways of doing business necessitate that we continue to work to address ever-changing conditions.
United Kingdom and Ireland
Dr. Ian Peters, MBE
CEO, Chartered Institute of
Internal auditing has never had the level of influence it now enjoys in the U.K. and Ireland, with increased expectations of what internal auditors should be doing now and in the future. Achieving Chartered Status in 2010 was a landmark for the development of the institute and the profession. Internal auditing is recognized as providing a unique function serving the public interest. It has never been more attractive to be an internal auditor, with institute membership at record levels. The institute’s key 2013 Financial Services Code and the influential 2014 report on auditing culture have created opportunities for us to influence the perception of the profession among key stakeholders. Internal auditors are now assessing strategic risks to organizational objectives and are giving opinions on organizational culture and tone at the top. Boards increasingly see the profession as a trusted adviser, relying on it to provide an independent, robust challenge in the boardroom.
Juan Perez, CIA
President, IIA–New York Chapter
For 75 years, U.S. internal auditors have maintained a strong tradition for innovation and commitment to the profession. The vigorous U.S. economic environment has enabled practitioners to witness firsthand the evolution of internal audit from an assurance discipline to an integral senior management function focused on adding organizational value. Now, internal auditors offer advisory services along with traditional assurance and validation activities. These services help achieve organizational objectives and increase operational effectiveness. Going forward, U.S. practitioners are faced with the critical task of rebranding the internal audit function to convey the broad vision of the internal auditor role as an essential adviser. Practitioners will continue to learn from the past and provide insight into future challenges.