There is certainly a lot of talk these days about
deregulation. You can’t turn on a news device anymore without some mention of
the elimination or possible elimination of a regulation. The message was made
clear recently when an executive order went out saying that two regulations had
to be eliminated for every new regulation that came into existence.
(Of course, any auditor who’s been around the workpapers more
than once knows how easily these kinds of rules are circumvented. Eliminate two
regulations, then include in the new regulation the two regulations that were
eliminated … plus a couple more. Apparently, even the most senior of executive’s awareness
regarding the circumvention of controls may not be as great as that of an
internal auditor. I still vividly remember a senior executive’s remark about a
significant issue we had identified: “Our employees would never do that.” But I
digress … and I’m only in the first couple of paragraphs of what is going to be a
multi-post discussion. I’d promise to try and do better, but we all know that
ain’t gonna happen. Where were we?)
So, let’s assume deregulation actually catches on. (And, in
my worthless opinion, I think there’s a good chance there’s about to be a whole
lot of that kind of change.) What are you going to do for a living?
Don’t give me that look. Every auditor out there spends part
of his or her time checking on compliance. And there are more than a few for
whom it is their entire lives/careers.
So, what will you do for your next act?
What are your plans for internal audit if there is sweeping change
in the regulatory environment?
What would you do if you gave a compliance audit and nobody
This is going to be a relatively short blog post because there
is a lot of ground to cover and this is only meant to provide context for what
will follow. We’re going to go back in time to talk about some internal audit
history (hang in there; it’ll be worth it), talk about the lessons that can be learned from that history, and, in the process, talk about how
internal audit can help shape its own future.
That includes taking responsibility and accountability for
proving how invaluable the profession can be within any and every organization.
But that can only occur if the professionals within that profession recognize that
value themselves — a value that goes beyond compliance (and a few other bread
and butter areas, as well.)
Until then, take a little time and take a closer
look at the work you and your audit shop are completing. If it is regulatory,
if it has a compliance element, if you are immersed (completely or partially)
in the intricacies of laws, ask yourself exactly what it is you might do if
there is suddenly a dearth of regulations, compliance, and laws. And ask
yourself not only how you will be impacted, but where, exactly, you might find
a job in the foreseeable future.