Internal Auditors Straying into Risky New Areas

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Internal auditors are increasingly finding themselves tasked with new responsibilities that carry some degree of risk, according to a new report.

The report, from the Institute of Internal Auditors Audit Executive Center raises serious questions about how practitioners are coping with these new demands. The IIA surveyed  chief audit executives and identified several areas where practitioners should branch out—cybersecurity, data usage and analysis step—even if it means they have to step outside their comfort zone. The report encourages internal auditors to also develop so-called “soft skills,” such as active listening, effective communications and diplomacy.

“Each year the North American Pulse of Internal Audit provides insightful data about our profession from the CAE perspective and outlines the challenges and opportunities the data reveal,” said IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers in a statement. “The message from the 2016 Pulse report is especially powerful as organization cope with rapidly evolving risks and internal audit serves an increasingly critical role to the success of those organizations.”

High-profile scandals that dominated business headlines in 2015 — FIFA, Toshiba, Hertz — point to the critical role of culture in corporate governance and provide a backdrop to the first area of change examined in the report. The survey found only 42 percent of respondents address culture in their organizations.

“Lack of management and board support for internal audit’s involvement in culture, and lack of internal audit’s ability to identify and measure organizational culture, are closely associated with internal auditors avoiding this risk,” according to the report, which is due to be released on February 9.

“A shift in mindset and sense of urgency is necessary for internal audit to meet and exceed the needs of their organizations—and to become trusted advisers,” the report urges.

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