Internal auditors are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and remain with employers who use internal audit as a talent pipeline for management positions, according to a new survey.

The job satisfaction survey, from the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation, found similar workplace satisfaction among chief audit executives who report functionally to an audit committee rather than to management. In addition, public-sector auditors wrestle more often with organizational-professional conflicts and are more likely to say their budgets are inadequate.

Those and other key findings were drawn from a survey designed to identify the best ways to retain top internal audit talent. The IIA received 1,600 responses from internal auditors and chief audit executives in North America.

“These survey findings provide an intriguing glimpse into what motivates internal auditors to stay put or move on from a particular organization,” said IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers in a statement. “It also provides a great foundation for future research on the impact of certain practices on professional bias and ethics.”

The survey found that internal auditors identify well in general with their organizations, and job satisfaction tends to increase as auditors move up through the ranks. Auditors at organizations that use “internal audit as a training ground for management” expressed greater job satisfaction and identification with the organization. Bonuses and other compensation tied to profits boosted job satisfaction and identification with the organization.

Approximately one out of 10 chief audit executives reported conflicts between standards and procedures at work and their ability to act according to professional judgment. CAEs who report to audit committees perceived less conflict than those who report to management.

Public-sector internal auditors reported higher rates of organizational/professional conflicts than their counterparts at publicly traded or private companies. Overall, internal auditors who work for service providers reported less organizational/professional conflict than in-house auditors.

The survey found no specific practices that had a significant impact on internal auditor judgment. Instead, it showed, for example, that judgment is not affected by an organization’s policy of using internal audit as a training ground for management. Other key findings on internal auditor judgment included:

•    Profit-based compensation does not appear to negatively bias judgment.

•    Internal auditors who receive profit-based compensation reported higher estimates of obsolescence and greater inclination to suggest a write-down.

•    Professional judgment is not affected by an auditor’s organizational or professional identification.

The survey was conducted by Venkataraman Iyer, a professor of accounting and finance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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