NEW! Ben’s Blog
We here at IIA Belgium have recently partnered with one of our trainers, Ben Broeckx, to bring more awareness of internal auditing to the general public. As a means of supporting this feat, Ben has agreed to start publishing blogs/articles for IIA Belgium. Ben himself is an experienced auditor and senior manager with more than 25 years of experience in senior management, development and management systems and the representation of organizations in public forums (public affairs) in the public and private sectors. Thus, his social commentaries will focus on the subject of internal auditing as a whole, to reflect on how far the profession itself has advanced in our organization since its inception and how there are many ways that it can still be improved. This way, IIA Belgium can offer insight, proper counsel and the correct information to all who dream of pursuing a potential spot in the ever-changing domain of internal auditing itself.
Enjoy the reading!
The other side of the table: What is new in internal audit?
“So, what’s new in internal audit?” I asked my friend, a partner at one of the Big 4. He looked at me with a frown which quickly turned into a smile and then a laugh: “Ben, you know there is seldom anything new in internal audit!” And with that, the first in-person conversation we had after more than a year of lockdown and talking to each other over Zoom connections moved on to other topics.
But when I got back home, that short exchange stayed with me. I am sitting at the other side of the table now, no longer an internal auditor but the one being audited and on occasion one of the members of an audit committee being reported to. But I have been an internal auditor for a significant part of my professional career, even before my CIA certification in 1999, and, to be honest, I still identify as internal auditor. The work I’ve done since leaving the profession has often been an iteration on auditing, risk management, governance or oversight, be it as the one doing the work or as a professor, teaching internal audit subject matter.
So, with that question, “What is new in internal audit?” in mind, I set out to do some research. The first port of call was the IIA Bel website. I found an interesting link to an ebook on Agile Auditing, which directly spoke to me as some of the teams I manage now are agile teams. I downloaded another ebook on digital transformation and the impact and relevance of internal audit … all that after two minutes of cursory glancing. The website then pointed me to Internal Auditor magazine. It had been a while since I had perused that particular magazine, but the content spoke to me, not only as an auditor, but as a person being audited as well. The February 2021 edition has articles on financial reporting during the pandemic, the risks of remote work and the need to be careful with sensational findings.
I took the time to look through these ebooks and articles and came away with one impression: it is not that there is nothing new in internal audit … but internal auditors do not share new insights with the people they audit or the boards they audit for. I’m one of those people and I believe you should be more inclusive about what is going on in the profession.
Why, I hear you ask? It is about share of voice and longer term relevance of the profession. As an internal auditor, you are in competition with other actors reporting to the audit committee and the board. In the audit committees I am part of, these actors are mainly the external auditor and the CFO, who is sometimes supported by a CRO, a chief risk officer, because audit committees are becoming more and more interested in risks and risk management. And boards and committees have agenda’s and limited time. In the competition for that share of voice, the internal auditor can often feel left out … while it is the single moment she or he can show the relevance of the profession and hence its costs to the audit committee and the board.
But your connection with the people you audit and the people you do the audit work for can go beyond those three or four meetings a year which last perhaps two hours during which you can present your findings for all of 20 minutes. Within the subjects mentioned above, subjects you actively work with or around, there are interesting things to be learned by management and the board as well. And it pays to share, because it emphasises your relevance and the relevance of the profession to us, your audience.
I do respect the absolute need for independence to ensure objectivity, but nothing should keep you from sharing ideas and insights borne out of the unique perspective auditors have on organisations. Because there should be at least one thing more satisfying to an internal auditor than a big juicy audit report full of findings, and that is the satisfaction and the recognition that what you shared with your audience helped the organisation you work for avoid issues instead of you having to identify and report them.
From the other side of the table, I am convinced that as an auditor, you have important new ideas and insights to share with me. So come see me and let’s talk. I’m looking forward to it.