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​Internal Audit Awareness Month: More Than Just Talking the Talk

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I was thrilled to announce recently that The IIA surpassed 200,000 members. This momentous milestone couldn't have come at a better time as we enter International Internal Audit Awareness Month, our annual, globally coordinated effort to raise awareness about our wonderful profession.

The IIA, along with its North American chapters and more than 100 affiliated institutes around the world, will be promoting the value that internal auditing brings to fostering stronger risk management, internal control, and corporate governance. Awareness month provides an opportunity for practitioners to plan events, gather proclamations, and do other outreach to elevate not just awareness, but also appreciation, for the vital assurance and advisory work we do.

Pride about the profession should be evident every day of the year, but I get excited when #IIAMay comes around. I'm always impressed with the creativity and passion that our members display in promoting the profession — from parades and proclamations to career days and even flash mobs.

Of course, the intent of International Internal Audit Awareness Month is for practitioners to build stronger relationships with stakeholders, raise awareness of the value internal audit brings to organizations, and, most importantly, live up to the picture we are painting about the profession.

Around the world, The IIA and its affiliates promote internal auditing as a vital component of organizational success. We defend the need to preserve independence and objectivity. We create and nurture relationships with stakeholder groups and other like-minded bodies to promote The Institute's International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. Through thought leadership, guidance, and educational tools, we prepare practitioners to become true trusted advisors to their stakeholders.

As we work our way through Awareness Month, let each celebration serve as a reminder of the important steps every practitioner should take to improve his or her service to stakeholders. In this regard, I believe there are three areas where we can do more:

  • Earn a CIA certification. The IIA's flagship certification, the CIA, signals to stakeholders our commitment to internal audit excellence. The CIA has been a badge of distinction for about 160,000 practitioners who have passed its exams since it was introduced 45 years ago. It is today a globally recognized pledge of high-quality internal audit service by the certificate holder.

  • Conform to the Standards. No true profession can exist without standards to which its members are held accountable. Despite the accessibility of the Standards to all members, conformance falls disappointingly short. While nonconformance, or selective conformance, to the Standards may prove expedient in the short term, it can be disastrous as a long-term strategy. Indeed, in today's volatile and dynamic economic environment, stakeholders demand the high performance associated with internal audit functions that conform to the Standards. Those who do not deliver are doomed to be marginalized in their organization, or worse.

  • Embrace innovation. Leveraging technology and embracing innovation are key to anyone becoming a successful 21st century internal auditor. But I'm concerned that the profession is not keeping pace. Low adoption rates of next-generation technology, such as robotics process automation and artificial intelligence, weak approaches to identifying emerging and atypical risks, and little change in decades-old audit processes suggest we are falling behind the innovation curve.

We must make a concerted effort to achieve full conformance to the Standards, increase the number of CIA-certified practitioners, and embrace innovation. These are steps that will help advance the profession and move an ever-increasing number of practitioners closer to becoming trusted advisors. I have written often about not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk. Let's take this International Internal Audit Awareness Month to begin that walk in earnest.

I look forward to your comments.

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