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  • Sally-Anne Pitt

Three Ways for Internal Auditors to Think Different

Providing meaningful assurance in a changing world

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, where organisations are constantly adapting to new challenges and opportunities, internal auditors must rise to the occasion and rethink their roles. The traditional approach to internal auditing is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of a changing world. Internal auditors need to think differently about who they are, what they do, and how they do it. By embracing diverse skills, experiences, and innovative approaches, internal auditors can ensure their relevance and effectiveness in providing valuable assurance to organisations.

Internal auditors - rethinking who we are

Internal auditors must recognise the value of bringing diverse skills to the profession. Traditionally, the internal audit function has attracted professionals with a financial or accounting background. While these skills are valuable, they are no longer sufficient in today's complex and interconnected world. Organisations should actively seek individuals with diverse backgrounds, such as technology, data analytics and behavioural sciences, to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. Embracing diversity will enable internal auditors to address emerging risks and better support the organisation's strategic objectives.

Organisations should value diversity of thought and experiences within their internal auditors. Teams can generate richer insights and make better-informed decisions by fostering an inclusive environment that encourages different perspectives. A diverse internal audit team, comprising individuals from different regions and cultures, helps their organisation understand the risks of operating in a globalised world. It supports their organisation to in a global world where constant cultural, technological, and societal shifts exist.

Rethinking what we do

Internal auditors must adapt to the different risks faced by organisations today. Traditional audits focused primarily on financial controls, compliance and operational processes. While these aspects remain important, internal auditors must broaden their scope to include emerging risks such as cybersecurity, data privacy, environmental sustainability and talent management.

Internal auditors must develop a deeper understanding of the organisation's operations to address these new risks effectively. By adopting a risk-based approach, auditors can identify and prioritise areas of higher risk and allocate their resources accordingly.

Internal audit functions should expand their knowledge base and develop specialised expertise. Building this capability may involve internal auditors gaining certifications, attending conferences or collaborating with external experts. Internal auditors can better identify and mitigate emerging risks by continuously upgrading their skills, helping organisations navigate uncertain terrains successfully.

Providing meaningful assurance in a changing world

Internal auditors must embrace new and innovative approaches to providing assurance. The traditional audit methodologies of the past may no longer be adequate to meet the needs of organisations in the digital age. Internal auditors should explore the possibilities offered by emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation, to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their audits.

Technological advancements can enable auditors to quickly analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns, anomalies, and potential risks. By harnessing the power of data analytics, internal auditors can gain deeper insights, uncover hidden trends, and provide more valuable recommendations to management.

Additionally, internal auditors should adopt a collaborative mindset, working closely with other assurance providers within their organisation. Partnering with risk management, compliance and other second-line functions will allow internal auditors to align objectives and avoid duplication of effort. By collaborating, internal auditors can leverage synergies, optimise resources, and provide a comprehensive and integrated assurance framework.

In summary - thinking different

The world has changed, and organisations have changed with it. To remain relevant and effective, internal auditors must think differently about who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Embracing diversity of skills, thoughts, and experiences will help internal auditors adapt to the evolving needs of organisations and the global landscape. By reevaluating their roles, internal auditors can address emerging risks, ensuring the organisation's resilience and success. Lastly, embracing new technologies and collaborating with other assurance providers will enable internal auditors to provide value-added assurance and become trusted advisors.

Follow Sally-Anne Pitt on LinkedIn to learn more about thinking different.

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