Internal auditors should begin adopting more of a risk management mindset, recommends a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report, "Internal Audit 2012," predicts trends that the Big Four firm thinks will dominate the internal audit profession over the next five years. PwC polled chief audit executives at Fortune 250 companies and "thought leaders" and received 72 responses from the audit execs and 10 from the thought leaders. Nearly 75 percent of the survey respondents expect globalization to have a moderate to very strong impact on the roles and responsibilities of internal auditors.

"We think that the value proposition for internal audit may be about to change," said Richard Chambers, a managing director at PwC. "We've seen an evolution going back to the 1980s where internal audit has gone through several iterations. In the last few years, it's been helping companies with their SOX compliance and the assessment of their internal controls. As we move forward, we think that's about to shift."

More than half the survey respondents expect that an annual audit-planning process focusing on an annual risk assessment will be more important in 2012 than it is today. Nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents expect the number of internal audit professionals to increase over the next five years, with the biggest jump coming in the technology area. One hundred percent of the respondents believe their use of technology will increase over the next five years, with 95 percent anticipating that technology will have a significant impact on internal audit responsibilities.

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