The Long Reach of the Standards

Internal Auditor’s latest winning scholarship essay discusses the role of the Standards in the internal audit function.

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Arriet Foster

The Standards are a benchmark by which internal auditors and the audit activity are measured. The attribute standards address the attributes of organizations and individuals performing internal auditing. The performance standards describe the nature of internal auditing and provide quality criteria against which the performance of these services are measured (Hovious, 50).

According to the IIA, conformance with the Standards is essential in meeting the responsibilities of internal auditors and the internal audit activity. Internal auditors have both external and internal responsibilities to the Standards. Externally, they review clients according to established policies and procedures to evaluate the “effectiveness of processes, ensure risks are managed appropriately, and ultimately, help the organization achieve its objectives” (Jacka, 65). To do so requires rigorous reliance upon the Standards. Conformance may seem “authoritative and overwhelming, suggesting a complex, resource-intensive effort,” (Hovious, 50) however internal auditors can meet this challenge by attaining a thorough understanding of the Standards and documenting their work appropriately (Hovious, 55). Internally, auditors have the responsibility to audit themselves (Jacka, 65).

The importance of the Standards is not limited to the review of audit clients. In fact, the simplest method to determine if an internal audit activity conforms with the Standards is internal assessment through the quality assurance and improvement program required by Standards 1300-1311 (Hovious, 52). Internal auditors should not only peer outward, but must look inward to determine if their objectives are aligned with the organization’s objectives, and processes properly controlled (Jacka, 65). Florida State University’s motto is Vires, Artes, Mores. The attribute and performance standards respectively embody the Mores (Latin for character) and Artes (skill) needed in the internal audit profession. Vires means strength, specifically power and influence.

Internal auditing is foremost a profession of trust rooted in the integrity, objectivity, proficiency, and due professional care set forth by the Standards. Internal auditors are called to be courageous, to “stand for what is right, adhere to the highest ethical code, and never yield to the pressure to bend the rules” (Chambers, 40). In many cases, this requires the Vires to make hard decisions, provide wise counsel, confront past mistakes, and evolve into practitioners of ethical commitment. It could even mean standing alone when tough issues need to be raised (Chambers, 43).

The Standards not only affect the audit world; they impact environments where the right course of action may otherwise be assumed relative to personal opinion. While internal auditors often face circumstances which challenge them to step outside their comfort zones or speak out against popular thought, they never actually stand alone. Auditors have a support system in the IIA and in each other across the globe, united by mission, principles, and the Standards. The Standards serve as a guideline to internal auditors as individuals, as a group at large, and to the work they do every day. This goes beyond the execution of the audit activity. The verities by which the Standards were constructed reach into every part of the internal auditor’s life.

Works Cited

Chambers, Richard. (2017). Champions of Trust. Internal Auditor. Retrieved from http://theiia.texterity.com/ia/february_2017_internal_auditor
Hovious, Christine. (2017). Breaking Down the Standards. Internal Auditor. Retrieved from http://theiia.texterity.com/ia/february_2017_internal_auditor
Jacka, J. Michael. (2017). The Beam in Internal Audit’s Eye. Internal Auditor. Retrieved from http://theiia.texterity.com/ia/february_2017_internal_auditor
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