internal audit recruitment

Audit International realise that for many internal auditors, the audit committee is a bit of an enigma. Most of you help the chief audit executive (CAE) or other internal audit leader with materials and content to provide to this subgroup of the board of directors. Much of your work, in summary fashion, ends up there. But, for the most part, we only know what happens behind the closed doors of the boardroom if your CAE conducts a post-meeting debrief. Yes, we know that the audit committee is important. We know that they take our work seriously. But what do they really want from us?

For internal audit leaders themselves, the meetings can be intimidating. The majority of audit committee members are experienced executives from other companies and often serve on other boards. They are generally savvy, informed individuals, who spend a part-time role executing governance duties for the organization where we work. So, while they might, at times, be proactive—meaning, they raise questions or lines of inquiry based on something they initiate—mostly they are reactive, responding to what is presented to them. That means the onus is often on internal audit leaders to help them in their role by carefully choosing what to share with them.

Yet walking the fine line between providing too much detail and maximizing the little time we have with the audit committee can be tricky. Internal audit leaders often express anxiety about meeting with the committee. It can be difficult to anticipate what they may find important versus what they would consider a waste of time. Indeed, internal auditors can be forgiven if they just want to shout the famous Spice Girls refrain: “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want!” So, let’s give that a try: What does the audit committee really, really want?

First, What the Audit Committee Doesn’t Want

During an Internal Auditors career, you report functionally to an audit committee on separate occasions, with different companies. You might foolishly think that you would give them lots of information and let them decide what was important. It’s a trap that is easy to fall into. It takes time, experience, and some good mentors to gain the wisdom to realize that is absolutely the wrong tactic.

It is an evolutionary process to slowly realize that reporting to the audit committee is not about what you want to tell them. It’s only about what they need to know. To cite an often-used phrase: “be brief, be insightful, and be gone.” Keep it short, share the needed knowledge, and let others take their place on the agenda. It’s not about you; it’s about your audit committee members.

What the Audit Committee Does Want

Here are ten things that Audit International have learned that the audit committee of the board wants from internal audit. We hope they work for you when it is your turn to directly interact with the audit committee.

1) The essence of the quintessence: This phrase, “the essence of the quintessence,” was shared by a chief operating officer of a bank once, and it stuck with us. Basically, he was expressing that he and the other execs were busy folks and they want to get right to the bottom line. Don’t just tell me what you are telling me, but tell me why you are telling me. Get to the essence of the quintessence! And that’s what the audit committee wants too! So, if you feel you really must share something with the audit committee, ask yourself why it is so important that they know it. If you can start your phrase with, “this is important because …,” then they probably need to know it. They want the bottom line and the why. The rest is superfluous.

2) Not how you did something, but what you concluded: Have you ever asked someone how their vacation went and they start by telling you about the car ride to the airport? You are being polite, but all the while you wish they’d just answer the question. You want to know about the experience at the destination, not how they got there. Well, the same is true with the audit committee. All the work we did to arrive at our conclusions is important to us, but not to them. They only want to know the conclusion. So, cut to the chase. They trust you did all the right work to get there.

3) Your opinion, not just the facts: Internal auditors follow standards, confirm everything, and don’t spout wild, unsupported views on subjects. We are methodological in our pursuit of facts and the truth. So, when we have made a conclusion, we are usually armed with supporting facts. If not, we tend to refrain from going out on a limb with an opinion. Resist the urge, however, to stick only to the facts. You are not a robot; you are a person with a brain. You have a range of experiences to draw upon and see more of the organization than most anyone else. So, does the audit committee want a Joe Friday, “just the facts ma’am,” approach? Not really. They trust you have done the work and want to hear your views on various topics. If they ask your opinion, trust your instincts and give it to them. If you don’t, you really aren’t adding as much value as you can.

4) Your concerns, audited or not: Whether you are new to an organization or have been there for many years, your well-honed internal audit skills will leave you with an innate ability to have concerns about certain things, whether you have actually done internal audit work on the topic or not. If you had unlimited time and resources, you’d go check out all those nagging worries, and confirm or deny them. But you don’t. The audit plan may not have prioritized it, but that doesn’t mean the concern isn’t valid.

Now, the audit committee has no desire to hear lots of speculation or theories, nor are they interested in trivial things. But, believe me, if you have a good relationship with the audit committee, they want to hear your top concerns, even if you don’t yet have all the facts. You just need to be extra careful in how you position what you say, and you do so rather infrequently. But they do want to know. As they say, that’s why you get paid the big bucks.

5) Something of substance in executive session: One experience that is among the trickiest for a CAE to navigate is the executive session with the audit committee. During the typical executive session everyone who is not a board member leaves the room and the internal auditor meets with the audit committee alone. Over the course of a few years of executive sessions with the audit committee, I can say from experience that there are two things you never want to do: one is to have something to tell them in every executive session, and the other is to have nothing to tell them in any executive session. So, the goldilocks theory applies here, you want to strike the right balance. What to bring up, how to bring it up, and what you need to do both before and after you bring it up is a whole course in and of itself. It is an art, not a science. Don’t be trivial or cavalier about what you bring up. The audit committee wants you to bring things up, and they want them to be of substance.

6) Proof you really get the business and the strategic plan – Whether it is deserved or not, a common complaint by operating leaders and managers within many companies is that internal audit does not understand the business. The last thing you want is for the audit committee to second guess your conclusions. So, if you are confident that you know the business and the strategic plan (and you’d better be), let it show. It should show up in your audit plan, your priorities, and your explanation of internal audit’s observations and conclusions. Don’t risk having the audit committee doubt you. They want comfort that you know the business and are in lockstep with the strategic plan. Give them the confidence that you do.

Another point to make here is to remember that you are a businessperson. As we go about our internal audit work, we tend to put blinders on, as if the audit plan and the audit projects are the only reason for our existence. Of course, they are not. So, when we update the audit committee on what we are doing, what hat are we wearing? An auditor’s who happens to work for the business? Or a businessperson’s who happens to be an auditor? The audit committee wants the latter.

7) That you align with second line functions: Not always, but often the only way that second line functions (risk management, compliance, security, and others) coordinate and collaborate with internal audit is if internal audit (namely the CAE) initiates the coordination and takes a lead role in it. Apart from the added cost of redundant activities, the audit committee doesn’t want a bunch of disjointed terminology, reports, and conclusions coming from the various “risk and control” functions of your organization. They want you to coordinate and collaborate across the second and third lines. If they aren’t telling you that, they are telling someone else behind your back!

8) Courage: Like everyone else in the organization, days are always going to bring obstacles, difficult co-workers, things not going according to plan, changed schedules, broken promises, and other hurdles. But, more often than many other employees in other departments, you will from time to time be called on to summon up some courage. From an obstinate audit client that is making your job difficult to a senior audit client manager that is disagreeing with you no matter how right you are—not to mention fraud investigations, hotline accusations, and executives who are doing questionable things—you are going to come across matters that are so egregious that you must raise them, regardless of the consequence. They are, hopefully, rare, but if you are in internal audit long enough, those times will arise. They will require backbone and strength of conviction, and are not for the faint of heart. But guess what, that is exactly what the audit committee wants from you: a reservoir of courage and the ability to call on it when it matters most.

9) That you understand the politics, but are not political – All organizations are political by nature. Whenever people get together and resources are scarce, win-lose games happen. Corporate politics are a fact of life. As much as we’d all like to be apolitical and let the facts drive what the right answers are, if we don’t learn how to navigate the organization’s politics, we will not be able to get our jobs done effectively. Does that mean we need to use the politics to our advantage? Sheepishly, the answer is yes, but not in an underhanded way. It’s important to know who to talk to, about what, and when; how to position what you are going to say; who needs a heads-up on what; who are the influencers in the organization; and so on. We need to know all that and leverage it to our advantage. Our audit committee members are some rather experienced and savvy businesspeople, and they are also navigating the organization’s politics to do their governance jobs. So, yes, they do expect you to understand the politics to get your job done well and know how to report things to them with an understanding of how the politics works, but they also don’t expect you to be overly political.

10) That you know when you may not be objective: Objectivity is such an important tenet to what internal auditors do and how we do it that we need to be ultra vigilant and self-aware when there is a risk of our objectivity being impaired. Audit committees expect us to be self-aware of when our objectivity might be impaired, or even the potential appearance of it being impaired. So, park that ego, realize you are subject to your own biases, and be self-aware enough to advise the audit committee when your objectivity could be impaired. They expect you to do that.

Earning that Paycheck

Even though they may not tell you directly, take it from us that your audit committee wants you to: be brief, tell them only what they need to know, share your professional opinion, be open about your concerns, leverage executive sessions properly, understand the company’s strategic objectives and strategic plan, collaborate with the second line, be courageous, know the business, navigate organizational politics, and say when your objectivity might be impaired. Easy peasy. Well, not really. But, as we concluded, that’s why you get paid the big bucks.

 

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc. across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the internal audit profession. ChatGPT, a large language model trained by OpenAI and based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, is an AI tool that can help internal auditors in various phases of their audit work.

Audit International are now going to discuss the benefits of using ChatGPT in these phases.

Planning

The planning phase is a critical phase of the audit process where the internal auditor defines the audit objectives, scope, and methodology. ChatGPT can be used in this phase to analyze large volumes of data and identify patterns and trends that may not be immediately apparent to human auditors. By using ChatGPT, internal auditors can save time and effort in identifying potential risks and opportunities for improvement. ChatGPT can also help internal auditors develop audit plans and testing procedures based on the insights it provides.

ChatGPT can also be used to educate internal auditors about the process under audit and its relevant risks. By inputting data related to the process, ChatGPT can provide a detailed understanding of the process and the risks involved. This can be particularly useful for internal auditors who are not familiar with the process or are new to the organization.

Further, ChatGPT can help internal auditors to identify potential areas for improvement in the audit process itself. As internal auditors input data into ChatGPT, the platform can analyze the data and suggest ways to improve the audit process. This can help internal auditors in developing more effective and efficient audit plans, testing procedures, and reporting methodologies.

Testing Phase

The testing phase is where internal auditors gather evidence to support their audit findings. ChatGPT can be used in this phase to analyze and interpret data, including financial and non-financial data. ChatGPT can help internal auditors in identifying anomalies, trends, and patterns in the data that may require further investigation. ChatGPT can also help internal auditors in identifying areas of the business where testing should be focused and can even suggest potential audit procedures based on the data it analyzes.

Reporting

The reporting phase is where internal auditors communicate their audit findings to the relevant stakeholders. ChatGPT can be used in this phase to generate automated reports that are accurate, comprehensive, and timely. ChatGPT can also help internal auditors in identifying the root causes of issues and provide recommendations for improvement. ChatGPT can even suggest remedial actions that can be taken to address the identified issues.

Monitoring

The monitoring phase is where internal auditors ensure that the management has taken appropriate actions to address the audit findings. ChatGPT can be used in this phase to monitor the implementation of the recommended actions and identify any further areas for improvement. ChatGPT can also help internal auditors identify emerging risks and opportunities that may require additional attention.

Privacy Concerns

One of the most significant concerns with the use of ChatGPT in the internal audit process is privacy. Internal auditors need to be aware of the privacy risks associated with the use of ChatGPT and take appropriate measures to mitigate those risks. It is essential to ensure that the data entered into ChatGPT is anonymized and that sensitive information is not shared or stored on the platform. Additionally, internal auditors need to ensure they have the appropriate consent and authorization to use the data in ChatGPT.

Treat it as a Tool

ChatGPT is a powerful AI tool that can help internal auditors in various phases of their audit work. By leveraging the capabilities of ChatGPT, internal auditors can save time, enhance their efficiency and effectiveness, and improve the quality of their audit work. However, internal auditors need to be aware of the privacy concerns associated with the use of ChatGPT and take appropriate measures to mitigate those risks. By doing so, internal auditors can leverage the capabilities of ChatGPT, while also safeguarding the confidentiality and privacy of sensitive data.

 

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc. across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com

A few weeks ago, Audit International met with a self-described “introverted” business leader. This business leader confided to us that introverted individuals have a harder time climbing the corporate ladder. The individual went further in claiming that recent research shows that it is worst for women, as introverted women are seen as less assertive and lacking in leadership traits.

Conversely, the business leader pointed out that recent research also shows that introverted individuals actually make better leaders, but because they are not as assertive as their extroverted counterparts, they are not equally represented in leadership positions. That took a minute for us to reflect on. It was one of the most thought-provoking discussions we’ve had in recent weeks.
Curious by the proposition and wanting to see what statistics we could get on the topic ourselves, we set out to create several online polls. Initially, we just asked a simple question:

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Here are three things we learned from asking that and some follow-up questions:

People Do Not Like Binary Options on Personality Traits
In two separate polls across different platforms, we received similar feedback:

“No room for those who don’t fall into these binary groups?” was one of the first responses.

“Some people vary based on their environment,” and “I believe there should be space in between the two,” were two responses that quickly followed.

“Do you have a definition of introverts and extroverts?” was the last question.

Even when we tried to foolishly define the terms we were met with a big, “it depends.”

Lastly, we received the one-word response that took my approach in a different direction: “ambivert.”

The Power of the Ambivert
A full 70 to 80 percent of internal audit professionals considered themselves introverts when only given two choices on the introvert vs. extrovert spectrum. However, in follow-up polls, when the ambivert option was introduced, the results were different. Vastly different. Nearly half of the introverts from the initial polls now classified themselves as ambiverts. Ambiverts were now, in two separate polls, the largest group.

So, what does that mean?

Maybe we’re being foolish again, but here is our theory: Introverted ambiverts are those who usually keep to themselves and don’t brag about their accomplishments, but when the stars align and the spotlight is on them, they shine.

When Audit International first started in the internal audit profession, we worked with two introverted gentlemen. They generally kept to themselves in the day-to-day audit process. But, when they led projects, they had absolute killer instincts.

In that group, they audited the Latin America region, so depending on the country visited they would switch from English to Spanish or Portuguese and back to English with pure finesse. Audit clients would be at ease with their approach and communication style. Anyone who had only known them for that period would swear they were extroverted individuals. But they were not. They were ambiverts.

And that is the power of the ambivert: Killer instincts when it matters.

Extroverts Are Disproportionately Represented in Leadership Positions
Back to the business leader’s proposition that introverted individuals get the short end of the stick when it comes to leadership positions. Was that the case? Based on my poll results, yes.

Extroverts represented approximately one-fourth of the sample population of internal audit professionals. However, they represent one-third of those professionals in leadership positions. Introverts, excluding those with ambivert traits, represented over a third of the sample population of internal audit professionals, but only 10 percent of those in leadership positions. These statistics can be even more accentuated when it comes to female leaders.

A burning question then came to mind. Do extroverts make better leaders? Would that be the reason they are overrepresented in those positions?

Audit International set out to attempt to answer that by asking the community about their experience with their previous leaders. Were their best leaders introverts or extroverts? For this last poll, we purposefully left the ambivert option out.

The results? Extroverts were slightly at an advantage, 53 percent versus 47 percent. In other words, the “best” leader being an introvert or extrovert had close to the same likelihood as the flip of a coin.

How come we don’t have more introverted leaders if they are just as good as extrovert ones?

We don’t have any statistics there but, in my opinion, it’s likely because extroverts are seen as better communicators, and being a good communicator is a sought-out trait in effective leaders.

Should Introverts Lose all Hope?
No. Introverts in some circumstances may have an advantage over extroverts. Another reason is that in [internal audit], passion for the role is important to the impact that you can have on the organization. An introvert has to put a bit more effort into the work than an extrovert does, and I’ve seen several times where this translated to the level of commitment and effectiveness to the role.”
It might even be concluded that an introvert displays more active listening skills and empathy, which is also essential in leadership roles.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc. across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com

When SOX was first enacted in 2002, its goal was to increase the overall transparency of financial reporting while, at the same time, develop a more reliable system of checks and balances. It was understood that compliance was both a legal obligation and good business practice.

Affecting both public and private U.S. companies, as well as those non-U.S. companies with a U.S. presence, SOX is focused on corporate governance and financial disclosure. It requires that all financial reports include Internal Controls Reporting and demonstrate that a company’s financial data is complete and accurate, with an adequate number of controls established to safeguard it. It also encourages the disclosure of corporate fraud by protecting whistleblower employees of publicly traded companies or their subsidiaries who report illegal activities.

The continued evolution of ESG on the other hand, includes a variety of factors that are often used to evaluate a company’s commitment to sustainable operations. The environmental factors in ESG offer insight into an organization’s environmental impact, including its carbon footprint, climate change initiatives, waste management policies, natural resource conservation, pollution, or efforts to decrease deforestation.

The social component of ESG examines an organization’s treatment of stakeholders (workforce, customers, providers and suppliers, government, regulators, or the local or global community) on issues such as diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, wages and salaries, and sales practices.

Lastly, the ‘G’ in ESG focuses on the governance factors and how to assess whether a company’s internal processes are able to ensure the organization, and its employees, act with professionalism and integrity.

While SOX is primarily focused on financial information — working with finance professionals and accountants — ESG is more concerned with non-financial data and metrics. It shouldn’t come as any surprise when organizations faced with these evolving and new ESG reporting requirements ask themselves.

The role of internal audit, Starting small and look at the bigger picture:
In the years that followed the introduction of SOX, the effect that it had on the internal audit profession was clearly a double-edged sword. On the one hand, internal auditors were quickly recognized as the experts needed to step into this space and provide the guidance that so many organizations needed. This resulted in growth across both the internal audit profession, as well as the various functions internal auditors were able to provide assurances for. It’s fair to say that internal audit membership more than doubled during the first few years of SOX implementation.

However, due to the urgency and level of uncertainty that SOX presented, leaning heavily on internal auditors also resulted in their spending greater amounts of time focused exclusively on SOX priorities, and significantly less time focused on those risk-based audits that organizations depend on. From an internal audit perspective it was a massive undertaking, and one that led to organizations developing SOX-specific internal audit teams.

Over the course of the last 20 years, and as a direct result of SOX, internal audit’s role around internal controls for financial reporting has become well established. Many of those same auditing skills and practices can (and should) be applied to ESG. However, an all-too-common question that’s on everyone’s mind is — “Who is responsible for ESG?”

ESG should be viewed as a top-down initiative, particularly from an organizational perspective regarding mandates, targets, and how goals are being established, monitored, and reported on. Each area or department of an organization should be aware of and responsible for their ESG initiatives. However, internal audit has an opportunity to become trusted advisors and take on more of an influential role when it comes to those first step.
How can internal audit provide the greatest value?
Organizations should reflect on the experiences they had in the early days of SOX and focus on identifying and understanding what the key controls of ESG will be. Where SOX was focused exclusively on financial reporting, ESG falls into that category of “everything else”. It comes down to the accuracy and reliability of the information. But how does an organization go about achieving that? The same way financial reporting was achieved with SOX.

Organizations have become comfortable with their financial reporting. They have been measured according to their financial results for a very long time. ESG in audit is different. It’s broader. It covers more ground and organizations will need to take some time to comprehend how to effectively turn the foundations of ESG into meaningful reports. Although it may be more complicated, the underlying processes that have been used for Sarbanes-Oxley for the last 20 years can be leaned on as a starting point when addressing ESG and identifying a methodology for assurance.

ESG presents a tremendous opportunity for internal audit to make an impact within their organizations. Because it is still evolving, and new guidelines and mandates are being released every day, a good strategy for internal audit would be to start small and identify those ESG factors that can be quickly included into your existing audit plan. Whether that’s reducing overall energy consumption throughout your office or working more closely with Human Resources to ensure new-hire practices are following appropriate guidelines, acknowledging the industry your organization resides in, understanding its risk landscape, and identifying a best-practices framework will give you the direction you need to successfully navigate ESG.

If there is one takeaway from the lessons learned when SOX was first implemented, it’s that those in the internal audit profession should avoid taking the “wait and see” approach with ESG. ESG is here and is gaining exposure and traction every day. The social ramifications of ESG alone should be enough for organizations to sit up and take notice. Understanding how to audit ESG — knowing your organization’s metrics and targeted reporting requirements, what to audit against and include in the final audit report — will better position you for success as a trusted advisor within your organization. Fill those essential Subject Matter Expert gaps early on with Audit International, identify and engage with key stakeholders, and avoid the reactionary trappings and costly mistakes of waiting too long and scrambling for solutions.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc. across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com

A new focus for Audit International and our clients is ESG. But there is one thing all of us are perhaps not considering as much : ESG’s impact on the workplace.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors are changing how companies conduct business in many ways, including:

– New ESG or climate-related disclosure regulations to comply with, especially in Europe.
– The need to effectively identify and manage ESG risks (including compliance, financial, and reputational risks), and integrate them within the existing enterprise risk management framework.
– Bringing a host of environmental and social metrics at par with financial information, especially with regards to data quality. There is a growing need for investor-grade ESG data.
– Ensuring that ESG factors give you a competitive edge in attracting investors, customers, and talent.

But there’s another change brought by ESG that’s not getting enough attention: The effects on workplace interactions.

– Firms that ‘get ESG right’ understand that ESG isn’t the responsibility of only one person. You can’t simply appoint a Vice-President or Director of ESG, or just place ESG under the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Sustainability Officer.

– Also, different departments can no longer work in their own little world with occasional collaborative efforts across functions. The important changes brought by ESG will also bring fundamental changes to the workplace.

The ESG team :
ESG is a team sport. People from different departments will have to work together as part of a single team.

You may be in Finance, Legal, Risk, HR, EHS, Sustainability, Operations, IT, or Procurement, but now, in addition to your regular teams and colleagues, you will also be part of the ESG team.

And your company’s ESG team will play a critical role because strong ESG performance drives corporate performance.

This represents a significant shift because suddenly key employees will have to align with a new set of stakeholders. They will have to work together with colleagues they might not have worked with before, or even knew. Here’s a sample of the types of interactions to expect:

EHS will have to provide key metrics to Finance for combined financial and ESG (or non-financial) reports.
EHS will also have to show to Finance and auditors (internal or external) how they provide limited or reasonable assurance on the data.
Procurement will seek guidance from EHS and the Sustainability team on how to capture greenhouse gas emissions data to calculate Scope 3 emissions.
HR will be asked to provide more tangible metrics on DEIB to Finance for inclusion in the combined financial/ESG report.
Did you bring together key stakeholders across departments as part of your ESG strategy?

Have you recruited members of your ESG team yet? If this is a topic you are actively hiring for, then please get in touch with us here at Audit International to assist you with any hiring needs you may have.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com”

Our journey discussing the benefits of auditing organizational culture is coming to an end. Audit International began this series by introducing initial cultural auditing concepts in the first article. Then, in the second article, we continued by more closely examining the first half of the top ten tips that were outlined. In this, the final article of the series, we wrap up with the second half of that list and conclude our analysis.

Auditing culture-
Auditing culture requires involving a wide range of stakeholders and will require you to consider alignment of the desired culture to the actual activities of many people. As we have seen, the leadership in the organizations and the people within the business are clearly very important. To get a true sense of culture you will also need to consider organizational partners and outside service suppliers.

If culture is the way things are done more informally, then this impacts everything in your entire organization’s wider sphere. In this context, procurement may be an important stakeholder to engage with in any cultural audit to better understand their selection methodologies, allowing you to form a view, for example, on how they consider cultural fit in the selection of any third-party suppliers. It also goes beyond the selection of suppliers to how we treat them once they are in place. Does the organization treat them fairly, or is the focus on cost at the expense of other, more important matters?

Ensure that you consider both design and operating effectiveness –
Auditing work should be examining both design and operating effectiveness. Cultural reviews are no different but have the tendency to focus on design at the cost of operating effectiveness. As with all audit work, you would typically begin with a risk and control assessment which can be developed in line with the cultural levers you have identified. Typically, an auditor would then request documents, allowing some desktop analysis ahead of the interviews. Interviews with management can focus on whether they understand the desired culture and can clearly articulate this, while also identifying which levers they see as being particularly important for ensuring the culture is real and lived on the front line. Interviews should also probe the extent to which management role model the desired culture every day and ensure their teams’ activities are in line with the culture.

However, understanding operating effectiveness requires a wider approach and talking to a wider range of employees. Focus groups or surveys can be effective to gather data from employees and may provide more diverse views. If focus groups are operated, they will require additional skill, with the lead needing to manage the group so that a fair range of positive and negative views are heard.

Despite the limitations of cultural measures these too should be requested for each of the levers to understand the extent to which the organization has cultural measures and whether the results are acted upon. Measures that you may wish to consider typically involve people management activity, such as employee turnover, exit interview data, grievances raised by employees, whistleblowing information, and absence data. Other areas should also be explored, such as customer complaints data. However, collecting these may present a challenge. If culture is important in the organization, then it will be available and likely reviewed. If not, there is the potential your first audit finding on the need for management to have appropriate measures in place to track whether the desired culture is being delivered in practice.

In Audit International’s experience, there is no, single best way of conducting cultural audits. Rather, you need to form a view of what is right for your organization. One aspect you will need to consider is whether you conduct specific cultural reviews in your audit plan, have it as a component in all audits that you conduct, or draw out cultural consideration into an off-plan piece of work. I’ve seen all aspects of all three of the options successfully implemented.

Don’t go for a grand plan –
It is important that you consider how you introduce cultural auditing into your program of work. It’s a sensitive topic, and management will often be wary of audit getting too involved. Your internal audit colleagues may also be nervous about whether an area like culture can, in fact, be meaningfully audited. The best advice being — don’t go for a grand plan, but rather start small, test, and learn as you go. This includes building support from the Board and executive leadership by demonstrating, as you go, the insights gained from the cultural examination you have completed and the possibilities to go further with increased resources and business buy-in to this challenging area.

This lends itself to the suggestion to start with a pilot, or a proof of concept, where you identify an area of the business to work with and look to introduce the concept of auditing culture at this point. This should be an area where you know you have a senior auditee who is an advocate of internal audit and willing to work with you to make the pilot a success. Audit International have found that success breeds more success and considerable momentum can be delivered in this manner. Early on, it is also good to share examples of your work and the value it is bringing. I call this the “test, share, and impress approach.”

Collaborate with your business colleagues –
It is also very important to work with the business. The tip here being: Collaborate with your business colleagues – independence is a mindset. Audit International have spent time with many auditors who have been reluctant to collaborate in any deep manner with the business, citing the audit charter and the need for full independence from first-and-second-line activity. We agree, our independence as internal auditors is very important. We need to be objective in all we do to avoid threatening this. However, Audit International don’t believe independence means that we cannot work closely with the business where it makes sense to do so.

One such area, for example, is the identification of the cultural levers discussed earlier – an organization-wide conversation on this is helpful in building appropriate understanding and support for the examination you wish to conduct. Also important is the identification and quick access to relevant data for your cultural work, both at an organization-wide level, but also in divisional units of your business. There is likely to be shared interest in this area, particularly with your HR function. Given this shared interest, it makes sense for all those interested in cultural understanding to come together to share ideas and data for the benefit of the business. For example, this may mean developing a shared data area that all can access. Identify across your business who is interested in this space and join with them to share, learn, and progress.

Upskill all auditors at all levels –
Finally, ensure that the program of work you want to introduce is a sustainable approach to auditing culture. Find a way to get your people behind this approach. At heart, we are a people business and any push to audit this challenging area on a sustainable and systematic basis will depend on the skills and knowledge of your teams.

This leads to the final tip to upskill all auditors at all levels. As we identified earlier, your impact is likely to be much higher if your teams integrate consideration of cultural levers and impacts throughout your audit work and not just in any standalone audit you may do. Understanding the nuances of culture is not simply reserved for HR and psychologists but is a core competency for all auditors. This should be reflected in the recruitment and development approach for your team.

This is likely to mean that if you are going to make cultural assessment a core part of your internal audit work you will need to provide training to the audit team. This will need to cover the organizational cultural levers that you have identified, the data that can help you understand these levers, and the interviewing techniques that will need to be employed to get to actual, as well as espoused, culture. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge where you don’t have the skills that are needed. You will likely need to draw on other sources of expertise, including business and external consultancy support. These can allow you to supplement both the capacity and capability of your team.

And, of course, think carefully about how you organize to deliver this challenging area of work. Our current view is that a multidisciplinary (sometimes called Hybrid) approach is most successful. This is all about how you set up your operating model to deliver your cultural audit work. Some larger functions have established dedicated, well-resourced teams to examine culture in their organization and have staffed this with a blend of expertise, including behavioral psychologists. This group of specialists work alongside and coach front-line auditors who are then encouraged to consider cultural levers in all their audit work as we discussed earlier. Clearly, this is more relevant for larger organizations, but even in smaller functions, you may choose to appoint a cultural lead (or champion) with the responsibility to support and drive the integration of cultural aspects into all your audit work.

Conclusion –
There is no silver bullet for the successful development and implementation of a cultural audit program. Hopefully, the tips that Audit International provided throughout this series of articles will be a useful catalyst for your work in this space as you consider the conditions needed for you to achieve momentum around the idea of auditing culture in your organization.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com”

At Audit International, we understand auditing organizational culture is a challenging area for internal audit. Culture is dynamic, and regularly changing. Successful auditing of culture requires a holistic approach across the internal audit function covering the development of internal auditor skills, adjustment to audit methodology, and buy-in from the business regarding the value insightful culture auditing can bring.

In this first article of a three-part series, Audit International examine and discuss the various factors for successfully auditing and influencing culture in your organization.

What is organizational culture, and why does it matter?
Before looking at how you audit culture, it’s necessary to first have a good understanding of what you mean by culture and why it’s important to organizational success.

The classic definition is around the phrase coined by Charles Handy, “the way things are done around here”. While helpful for us to gain insights into auditing culture, we need to unpack this further. Culture is about the interaction between values and behaviors and how these are seen in the organization’s activities and interactions with the range of stakeholders it has (e.g., employees, customers, suppliers, and society).

Top ten tips:
Given the fact that you are reading this article, hopefully you are already convinced that internal audit has a role to play within the organization when it comes to assessing culture. You may already be on this journey delivering cultural insights through your work to your Board, or you may simply be interested in learning more about how to begin this journey. Whichever stage you find yourself, the following top 10 tips will provide you with some initial and practical thoughts that provide a view on culture and the direction needed to influence both management and the Board.
1 – Identify your cultural levers
2- Reputation, Identify whether the organizations actions and messaging, internal and external, are aligned
3- Leadership, Do they own and manage the culture?
4- People Management, Is desired culture integrated into people-management activities?
5- Identify key processes and access alignment.
6- Auditing culture, is this holistic approach being considered by a wide range of stakeholders?
7- Be sure that you consider both design and operating effectiveness.
8- Don’t go for a grand plan.
9- Collaborate with your business colleagues, independence is a mindset.
10- Upskill all auditors at all levels.

In the coming second and third articles of this three-part series on auditing culture, Audit International will take a closer look and provide a more in-depth examination of each of these suggested ten tips. These follow-up articles will offer examples and provide opportunities to more successfully audit and influence the culture at your organization.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com”

With one in five people pledging to pursue career goals and ambitions in their New Year Resolutions, Audit International have researched career experts advice on achieving these in 2023.

New Year, new (career) you! More than 20% of people toasted the start of 2023 with some form of New Year’s resolution and one in five of those pledged to pursue new career goals.
But with January now over, many of those good intentions may have already fallen by the wayside. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, people will typically ditch their ‘New Year New Me’ resolutions by the second week in January.

If that strikes a chord, don’t despair. Audit International has taken some insights from careers experts on their top tips on getting your career back on track.

Re-evaluate your current career choices :
For those with an established job, or who have taken time out of work to start and raise a family, it can be daunting to consider a new industry or completely change career path. However, it’s never too late to take your role in a different direction or re-enter education.

“If you’re looking to change careers in 2023, it’s important to evaluate your previous experience up until now. Consider which parts of your current or past job roles have brought you the most satisfaction or fulfilment, as this can help guide your new career path,”.

Adopt a continuous learning mindset :
Passing all of your exams is an amazing achievement, but that’s when the real learning starts. “Don’t assume you know everything now. Listen and ask questions and make notes and look things up. Every day is a school day!”

Work on your soft skills :
To get ahead in your career it’s also important that you develop soft skills that complement your technical prowess. “As part of your role, you will be expected to provide advice to clients and companies on any number of specific issues they may be experiencing, so developing strong soft skills including clear and concise communication, empathy, and the ability to make decisions to help resolve conflict will be key to your continued success.”

Develop a killer network:
Natural networking is everything. LinkedIn bombing everyone you think might be useful to you is annoying and will rarely achieve anything. Show an interest in everyone you meet and connect in a more genuine way. Try not to just focus on people you think are ‘important’.

Be authentic :
As an accountant, you are well-organised, a skilled number-cruncher and have a keen eye for detail. But as your career progresses and you become a team leader, you will need to focus more on management and people skills. If you get promoted to a management role without any formal training, it can be easy to act like the type of manager you’ve seen in the past. “People buy people, so be yourself, not the manager you think you should be”.

Focus on developing relationships :
Accountancy is a task-oriented job and it’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of completing tasks and hitting deadlines. But the real value you add as a manager is building relationships with staff and being an enabler and facilitator for the team. That means getting to know your colleagues on a personal level and understanding their strengths and capabilities.

Keep your eyes open for growth opportunities :
Don’t get bogged down in short-term deadlines and tasks. “These need to be done for sure, but you should also look more widely to find new areas of growth and challenges that can help you advance in your career”. That could mean studying for a qualification, taking on new responsibilities, or joining a cross-functional team. “Always look for ways to build your skills and contacts and your career will progress nicely.”

Don’t limit yourself to one area :
One of the best ways to elevate your career is by making sure you don’t limit yourself to just one part of the accountancy industry. “Gaining experience in a variety of roles – especially during the first few years of your career, as you decide the areas in which you thrive and most enjoy – will build your confidence and will provide you with essential skills that help boost your long-term career prospects”.

Connect with a mentor :
Regardless of where you are in your accountancy career, having the advice of someone more experienced than you can be invaluable. If you are unable to secure a mentor through work, it is also worth approaching people that you work with who could help you, or you could even look at joining an association that could pair you with someone.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself :
It’s always good to be ambitious when it comes to your career and education, but avoid putting too much pressure on yourself when it comes to achieving all of your goals or training courses by the end of 2023. “Comparing yourself to others or putting pressure on yourself can lead to you feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Take as much time as you need and find flexible options that work for you, especially if there are other important childcare or work commitments to take into consideration.”

Be ready to flex. Having a long-term career plan is great. However, things change and you will get frustrated if you can’t adapt or sometimes go with the flow.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com”

There is currently a misalignment in the world of Internal Audit. As Richard Chambers and AuditBoard’s 2023 Focus on the Future Report reveals, there are key areas where significant gaps exist between risk levels and planned efforts. The ability to attract and retain top talent, macroeconomic factors and geopolitical uncertainty, and business model disruptions due to the evolving risk landscape were all listed as top concerns for major organizations, yet only 13-20% of businesses have meaningful plans to devote substantial resources to these issues. Internal audit teams need to be ready to identify and address this kind of disconnect to ensure that their organizations are positioned for success in 2023. In this article, Audit International will identify three top internal audit trends, the challenges they present, and how internal audit teams can leverage software solutions to deploy team resources strategically against the most pressing concerns — setting themselves, and their business, up for success.

Trend 1: Velocity of Risk and Technology Change
Teams must continually provide assurance while adapting to evolving risks, digital disruption, and regulatory changes. Today we’re seeing significant contributions from the digital revolution, climate change, and stakeholder expectations, as the speed of decisions, the amount of connectivity, and the availability of data have all increased. Companies are learning that they have to balance pressures regarding what’s coming from governments, investors, and society as a whole. Stakeholders expect companies to act legally and with a conscience, and regulators are focusing on things like climate change, data privacy, and security.

Challenges in this area hit in numerous ways. First, there is an expanded purview required from emerging technologies and related risks. Second, there are repeated shifts to audit scope that put new burdens on teams. Third, there is an increased depth and breadth of data that brings along associated issues — including data reliability, related required team efforts, and resource constraints.

Technology can help audit teams develop solutions for these issues. Audit planning software accelerates risk and change responses from teams. With this preparation, teams can create risk-based audit plans with risk metadata to allow for efficient execution and continuous assurance.

Trend 2: Growing Internal Audit Talent Gap
Staff shortages, changing attitudes towards work, and a pre-existing skills gap are increasing talent risk and influencing how internal audit teams approach their work. Many teams are reporting that they are losing talent and struggling to replace them. Meanwhile, for the remaining team members, expectations are growing. They want to do more, and we need to keep them engaged. We have to support the folks that we have and give them opportunities to work in cybersecurity, sustainability, and other areas of interest.

The challenges created by the talent gap are as expected. Due to greater cost-cutting and efficiency demands often put in place by organizational leadership, teams are being asked to do more with less as headcount may be frozen or cut. There are the aforementioned difficulties retaining people and improving their skills, plus there are increasing specialization and training needs for team members.

A technology solution in this area is software with resource planning capabilities. This can help teams manage, optimize and retain talent by deploying resources more strategically, and it allows teams to improve individual and overall skills, efficiency, and experiences.

Trend 3: Align With the Business Objectives
The highly competitive corporate landscape and economic disruptions are driving the internal audit profession to refocus efforts on improved strategic alignment. Richard Chambers speaks often about auditors needing to become agents of change. When contemplating initiatives like cybersecurity, diversity, equity, inclusion, and third-party risk management, executive teams and audit committees all want better strategic alignment from internal audit teams. Internal audit must understand and embrace stakeholder needs and challenges so that we can better support their strategic initiatives.

The challenge for internal audit teams in this area is aligning audit with business priorities, which isn’t always as simple as that might seem. Plus, there is an increased requirement to validate internal audit resources. We have to start thinking in new ways, provide more value propositions, and be able to deliver more in less time.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com”

Let’s face it. Even here at Audit International, we understand Internal audit still suffers from some rather negative stereotypes. There are plenty of companies or units where internal auditors are not welcomed with open arms. Audit clients may view internal audit with suspicion, expecting a “gotcha” mentality or may feel like they are under surveillance.

Sure, it’s often undeserved and some of it comes with the territory, but we may even be perpetuating such negative views with the words we use. Words and phrases that internal auditors consider just a normal part of the profession’s vocabulary may actually be words that trigger negative reactions in our audit clients. And often, internal auditors don’t realize they are contributing to the hostility by using them.

Words matter and good internal auditors choose them carefully. But auditors are also as prone to using professional jargon as anyone. These are words that have become so commonplace that we might not think too much about what they really mean, especially to others. We all use them. Yet, how they might be interpreted may not be how we intended. So, what can we do about it?

Here are seven words that we should consider their meanings more closely and either use them more carefully or strike them from our vocabulary completely.

1. “Finding”
Most internal auditors call what we consider reportable (in writing and verbally) a “finding.” Think about that for a moment, though. It’s not as if the vast majority of our audit observations were hiding or lurking in some hard-to-discover, dark and foreboding place, and it took our best Indiana Jones skills to unearth them. Lo and behold, ah ha! We have a “finding.” The word relates a context of sleuthing and uncovering things that were hidden, perhaps intentionally.

So put yourself in the shoes of your audit clients. We come along and have all these “findings,” as if they weren’t doing their jobs and it took us to find these gems of reportable conditions. Worse yet, we are often reporting as “findings” what audit clients told us directly. How would you feel if someone walked through your house and told you at the end of their visit that they found the carpets needed vacuuming, the furniture needed to be dusted, and relayed a few other of their insufficient housekeeping “findings.” You’d likely be inclined to never invite them back.

Try using the words “observations,” “conclusions,” or “conditions,” rather than “findings.” You may find they work better in your organization. Audit clients will feel less like they are being accused of hiding information or that they didn’t see something that the auditors later uncovered.

2. “Weakness”
When we observe an issue, we also sometimes couch that issue by using another troubling word, “weakness.” We may not be able to avoid calling breakdowns in internal controls, as they relate to SOX-like work, “control weaknesses” if the controls are not working as they should (or at all). But we should avoid calling observations outside of controls “weaknesses,” if possible.

Think about it. You go into the manager’s office during an audit, and you say, “excuse me, if you have a few minutes I’d like to go over a few weaknesses that have come to our attention during our review of your area.” Expect immediate defensiveness. We might as well be criticizing their first-born by pointing out weaknesses in how the child looks or plays with others. The word connotes physical ineptitude and can strike a visceral blow to any manager’s ego.

Like weaknesses, “deficiencies” isn’t any better for all the same reasons. So, perhaps, try “opportunities,” or “matters for attention,” rather than “weaknesses.” Even “challenges” or “difficulties” will garner a better response from audit clients.

3. “Material”
While the term “material” has been part of auditing language forever and, although tough to really quantify, is an important and meaningful word. I mean, if it’s not material why look at it or consider it at all? We also have the SOX-related nomenclature of “material weaknesses” (which people want to avoid as best as possible). Look, if you tell someone something is “material” and it truly is agreed that it is “material,” that’s a big deal.

Yet when we tell someone who is the owner of something that we want to talk with them about a matter that is “material,” what would be the natural reaction of the person on the receiving end of that word? Disbelief, denial, and outright defensiveness are natural human reactions when told something is “material,” in a bad way, which affects them or their responsibilities. Think about being in the doctor’s office because you have not been feeling well. After a bit of consultation and tests, the doctor comes in the room and tells you that there is something “material” to discuss. You are likely to act with disbelief, denial, and defensiveness, naturally. The word conveys an urgency we might not intend. Do we really want our clients to react that way, now or in the future?

Note that “material” has an important legal context. The Securities and Exchange Commission defines “materiality” as anything a reasonable investor would deem relevant to their decisions about whether and how to invest. While it’s important to use this word carefully in this legal context, it’s also easy to adopt the word and use it outside this context, which can result in misusing it. Another problem with “material” is that it implies that everything else isn’t important or that other aspects of an audit client’s work are meaningless, which is not a great sentiment to convey.

So, perhaps, when you don’t really have to use the word “material” (or “significant” for that matter) in consultation or in writing, maybe consider some different language. Hey, there’s something important I want to run by you when you have a moment, and maybe we can write about the top matters for attention without calling them “material” (unless, of course, we must).

4. “Disclosed” or “Uncovered”

Like the word “finding,” the word “disclosed” (or the word “uncovered’) has a similar connotation. It’s as if the issue was hiding and no one knew about it or would ever find it without you, and your brilliance—the internal audit superhero with x-ray vision. OK, sometimes things were truly hidden, unintentionally or, worse yet, purposefully, and we did use our internal audit superpowers to uncover it and then we get to puff our chest and—cue music here—disclose it. But, come on, that’s rare.

Yet, we use the terminology all the time. For example, resulting from of our testing, it was disclosed that blah, blah, blah. Or, based on our review of the area, it was uncovered that yada, yada, yada. Now, if you’ve got sneaky and underhanded clients, who are going around hiding stuff from you that you truly uncovered and want to disclose to the world, then fine. But most clients don’t do that, and you want to collaborate with them in the future.

Imagine how you’d feel if the external team you hired to do your Quality Assurance Review (QAR) started telling everyone, verbally and in writing, what their work (and only their work) disclosed and uncovered in your internal audit department? How would you react to that? “Disclosed” implies that something was formerly a secret and now you are airing the dirty laundry out for the world to see.

So, maybe we need to back off the “disclosed” and “uncovered” language, at least a bit. Options might include, “along with management, we identified …,” “taking full stock of the evidence, it can be concluded that …,” “testing demonstrated that …,” or similar language. Just don’t use “revealed” instead. That’s just as bad.

5. “Entrance” and “Exit”
OK, you may need to bear with me a bit on this one.

We’re going to start an audit project, and our first meeting with the client is called, in many companies, an “entrance meeting.” Then, when we’ve concluded all our fieldwork, what do we call the last meeting with the client to wrap things up and ride off into the sunset to work on the audit report for weeks on end? The “exit meeting.” They are decent terms, descriptive of exactly what they are … our entrance (ugh, the auditors are here) and our exit (yes, they are leaving, let’s party).

Let me ask you this, though. Is this audit, the one you are doing an entrance into and an exit from, the first and last time you will ever see these folks? I sure hope you have an ongoing relationship and are interacting all year long, or at least on occasion. If that’s the case, there is no entrance and there is no exit because, like the song Hotel California, you may never leave. And, if you’ve done your relationship management right, they are happy about that.

The point is that “entrance” and “exit” are old-school terms from when we did things on a cyclical basis and may or may not come back. Back then, relationship-building was less important and audits had a fixed beginning and end. So, maybe we need to stop calling them “entrance meetings” and “exit meetings,” and just call them something else that isn’t so clinical and auditor sounding. Schedule your Project Introduction Meeting at the beginning and, maybe, your Project Wrap-Up Session at the end, or something like that. And, if you are well down the path of an agile implementation, all that entrance and exit stuff becomes moot anyway.

6. “Consulting”
Back in 1999, the Institute of Internal Auditors introduced the well-accepted and globally codified definition of Internal Auditing as: “An independent, objective assurance and consulting [emphasis added] activity designed to add value…” Back then, the word “consulting” was viewed positively. And, for internal audit to be positioned to not only provide assurance, but to also be viewed as a consultant? Well, to borrow a ’90s term, that would be “da bomb!”

But, somewhere along the way, the word “consulting” came to be viewed less positively, and we’ve started to insert the word advising to soften the term. Should we blame consultants for tarnishing a good word, and making people view consultants and, in turn, consulting, negatively? Perhaps, but that’s not the point.

We all want to be advisors, and the gold standard, the place to be, the coolest accolade, would be to be trusted and be an advisor. So, in our pursuit of being that vaulted trusted advisor, let’s drop the word consulting from our vocabulary, once and for all. Look, your clients might want to “consult” with you, but hopefully you are “advising” them.

7. “Satisfactory”
Often, we as auditors don’t want to overcommit, and use words that might get us into trouble later if something is determined to be different than our work concluded. There is just so much we can evaluate and then we must draw a conclusion and move on. So, we settle on words like “satisfactory,” even if things are notably better than the word implies. From an internal audit perspective, we are hedging out bets. We don’t want to be overly flowery with praise, and just conclude something is either “satisfactory,” “needs improvement,” or “unsatisfactory.”

Put yourself on the other side of the table. Let’s say, for instance, you’ve worked hard at something, gone the extra mile, and made sure it was done exceptionally well. Then, someone comes in, looks it over, and decides that things seem “satisfactory.” Ouch, gut punch! You put in a ton of effort, expected to get an “A” grade, and the professor gives you a “C.” That’s kind of deflating.

Let’s not forget that the word “satisfactory” means acceptable or good enough, but not outstanding or great. Yes, there are reasons to fall on the crutch of concluding, placing our highest auditor grade on something, that it is “satisfactory.” But, perhaps, if we can avoid it, we take the risk, rely on our work, and conclude that something better than a measly “satisfactory.” Don’t be afraid to say if something is exceptional, great, works well, or exceeds the requirement.

The Last Word
There is a lengthy list of good reasons, justifications, and rationalizations for why we use the words we do as internal auditors. Many of them have stood the test of time. Many are in use, and still exist, because we are hearing the world through our own ears, and not our clients’.

If we stop for a minute, and consider what these words sound like and what they actually mean, and the impressions they may leave on the ears of our clients who hear them, perhaps they are not the best words to use. Perceptions are reality, and if you want to change perceptions, maybe one way to do that is to change our vocabulary. In other words, say what you mean and mean what you say.

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Cyber Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us via any of the following:
Calling
– Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59 or
– US 001 917 508 5615
E-mail:
– info@audit-international.com”