Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2017 Contents BG20 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JUNE 22 • 2017
Building internal audit awareness
Internal auditors aren't the rare breed
they once were but do you really
know what they do? Don't worry if
you don't, you are not alone. It is for
this very reason that every year, May
is designated as the International In-
ternal Audit Awareness Month by the Institute
of Internal Auditors (IIA).
Although the auditing profession has been
around for over 70 years, there is still some
mystery as to the role played by internal au-
ditors within an organisation.
In his 2012 article, IIA President and CEO
Richard Chambers listed five myths about in-
ternal audit and despite how far the profession
has come in five short years, these myths re-
main as valid today as they were then.
We take a look at these myths from the per-
spective of our local environment.
There is a misconception that one needs to
possess some specific accounting qualifica-
tion (eg, the Association of Chartered Certified
Accountants) to become an internal auditor.
As professional qualification is sometimes a
key requirement in the recruitment of internal
audit professionals, many people believe that
internal audit focuses solely on an organisa-
tion's financial statements.
However, the role of internal audit extends
well beyond that of financial statements. As
internal auditors are required to provide in-
dependent assurance on all areas within the
organisation, they must develop a broad variety
of skills to properly execute their job function.
Chief audit executives are encouraged to
critically assess the skill sets of their staff
against the background of the organisation in
which they operate to ensure that the audit
team as a whole possesses the critical skills
and knowledge to add real value in all areas
Masters of Minutia
People mistakenly assume that internal au-
dit's role is to pick apart the nuts and bolts of a
company's operations and report on even the
most negligible of irregularities.
In reality, much like many other profession-
als, auditors have limited time and resources.
There is greater value in placing focus on those
significant risks with the greatest impact to
This provides management and the board
with the assurance that these risks are being
adequately addressed and that the organisa-
tion's internal control environment is being
continuously improved and strengthened.
Answer only what is asked
Many clients typically want audits to be
completed within the shortest possible time-
frame; as such they often feel it is better not
to volunteer additional information unless
specifically asked in order to shorten the au-
However, the opposite is actually true!
Voluntary disclosure of relevant information
actually shortens the process as it reduces the
time the internal auditors would take to obtain
that same necessary information.
An internal audit's ultimate goal is to help
management add value to the organisation.
Therefore, the more forthcoming clients are
with information or issues, the greater the op-
portunity for a beneficial audit process for the
Same audit, different year
While it is true that some audits remain
largely unchanged from year to year, (eg com-
pliance or regulatory audits) internal auditors
are required to perform risk assessments at
least once annually to determine the areas of
higher priority and focus. The internal audit
plan will then be updated to reflect those areas
that are considered to be of greatest risk to the
With the ever changing business environ-
ment, internal audit plans must remain as
flexible as possible to address newly emerging
risks and issues.
Red Alert! Red Alert!
"What are they looking for?"
These are questions that one tends to hear
when staff within a department discover that
they are going to be subjects of an internal au-
This is often symptomatic of an adversarial
relationship between auditors and auditees;
where there may be an issue of trust if audi-
tors are perceived as condescending, abrasive,
or generally unapproachable. This particular
myth can be the most damaging of them all
and can really only be dispelled by internal
auditors themselves with support from senior
management and the board.
While internal auditors always need to main-
tain independence, objectivity, unwavering
ethics and integrity; they also need to build
strong relationships with those they audit to
create a sustainable partnership.
Internal auditors must create a collaborative
environment; one where audit clients proac-
tively seek their views, opinions and advice so
that the auditors would be clients' first port
of call should operations go awry.
Building the brand of an internal audit de-
partment and enhancing stakeholders' under-
standing of the profession is a long, seemingly
never ending journey.
Internal auditors must willingly help to
change these misperceptions. This can be
done through small steps such as improving
daily interactions with audit clients or sharing
internal audit knowledge.
Professionals can also share their experienc-
es with others at forums, workshops or even
through articles such as this.
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