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What If You Gave a Compliance Audit and Nobody Came​​?

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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 came?

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.​

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