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Thinking Like an Auditor

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Auditors

    August 17, 2018 | By Toby DeRoche MBA, CIA, CCSA, CRMA, CICA, CFE

    Despite all the books, articles, training, and guidance available from The IIA, not everyone in internal audit is a superstar. In most audit departments, some individuals are great examples of what not to do. They may be ineffective as leaders, have weak technical skills, or poor soft skills. Let’s look deeper into the habits that make them less than stellar.

    1. Audit Like It’s 1999
      Every year some surveys capture the perceived value of internal audit within an organization. These surveys usually include board member opinions that the majority of their internal audit departments need to make some pretty significant improvements. When we know that these improvements must be made, this should move all of us to stay current with the profession. Unfortunately, many departments are still auditing the way they did over 15 years ago. Audit leadership must drive this change, but ultimately it is each auditor’s responsibility to stay current with business, industry, and audit trends. We are no longer checklist auditors or the compliance police. Auditors should be risk-focused and be applying the latest tools and techniques to our audit process.
    2. Skip the Certifications
      The IIA and other professional groups for auditors offer conferences, seminars, books, magazine articles, and even free webinars. All of this information is meant to provide us with a means for continuous education. Ongoing education is required for those of us with certifications. Unfortunately, the majority of those practicing internal audit today are not certified and therefore do not keep up with industry trends.
    3. Ignore the New Hires
      Most departments promote based on tenure and attrition. Audit managers may end up in their positions with no training in soft skills. The people who suffer the most are the staff auditors who need guidance and attention. Managers may blow them off saying “they won’t be “career” auditors anyway.”
    4. Start With the Checklist
      Internal Audit has a long-standing reputation compliance police who come around every year with a standard checklist. Unfortunately, some auditors perpetuate this stereotype by auditing with checklists and canned audit programs without considering processes and risks.
    5. Auditing is Only Interviewing
      Even with the near constant training available on the use of technology and focus on improved testing methodologies like data analytics, many in our profession base all of their audit work solely on interviews and walkthroughs.
    6. Just Give In
      Auditors should uphold the highest level of integrity, but this may be challenged when dealing with other managers. Some senior managers in audit departments may drop issues to avoid conflict or give in to pressure from legal counsel to leave issues out of reports.
    7. Make It Sound Smart
      People everywhere struggle with communication skills. Pretty much all conflict in group settings can be traced back to poor communication. Too many audit reports produced by audit managers are written to be overly complicated and filled with jargon and acronyms. Often the meaning of the issue is lost from trying to sound smart.

    Every one of us should strive to be better than the people in these examples. It is imperative for all of us to current with industry trends, take your job seriously and when necessary, push audit management to adopt new tools and audit techniques. The audit industry should reflect the businesses we are a part of, and the world is always changing and at an ever-increasing pace. Don’t get left behind!

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