Chief Audit Executives


Chief audit executives

Ready for the spotlight?

​If you are a Chief Audit Executive, you may be feeling the glare of the spotlight—now or in the near future. In many organisations a growing audience of stakeholders is expecting more from internal audit and from the Chief Audit Executive. They expect you to align internal audit with business strategies, chart a course forward, and launch efforts that will fulfill existing and emerging needs.​

Lessons from the Labs

Over the past three years, Deloitte Advisory has delivered over 50 Chief Audit Executive Transition Labs. These innovative, immersive, individualised one-day working sessions assist internal audit leaders in assuming new roles and transforming their internal audit programs.

The labs were created in response to increased demands on internal audit stemming from new strategies, regulations, practices, technologies, and risks in most organisations. As noted in Adapt or disappear the Chief Audit Executive must take the lead or lend a strong hand in addressing these demands.

In preparing for Chief Audit Executive Labs, we have interviewed hundreds of audit committee chairs, CEOs, CFOs, and other C-suite leaders and stakeholders.

Here is a summary of what they had to say:

  • We want more from internal audit than compliance, assurance, and the usual reports.
  • We want advice on risks and risk management, and insights into business operations and processes.
  • We’d like internal audit to anticipate risks and issues – not just to help everyone stay out of trouble but also to point out opportunities and emerging trends
  • Internal audit needs to ratchet up its analytical game, communicate with stakeholders more clearly, and proactively manage change.
  • We want internal audit to partner with leaders in the business and with compliance, enterprise risk management, and other functions

Many Chief Audit Executives tell us they’re hearing mixed messages when it comes to stakeholders’ expectations. That’s understandable, given that disruption in industries, organizations, business models, and technology never lets up. Nor does the drumbeat of doing more with less or demands to upgrade internal audit talent, tools, and practices.

What an opportunity!

To help you make the most of it, this paper presents eight key lessons learned from the Chief Audit Executive labs.

Download the pdf

Eight strategies for transforming internal audit

To ready yourself and internal audit for the spotlight you should:

  1. Get in character. Strive to strike a better balance between your Steward and Operator roles and your Catalyst and Strategist roles.
  2. Sharpen your focus. Dispatching assurance activities as efficiently as possible can free up more time for advising and anticipating.
  3. View reporting through a new lens. Shifting reporting from a primarily backward-looking focus to a more forward-looking one can support efforts to advise and anticipate.
  4. Develop the talent. Organisations know they need the expertise and skills that internal audit is uniquely qualified to provide, so it’s up to the Chief Audit Executive to provide them.
  5. Embrace new technologies. New analytical tools are not only useful but necessary to updating methods, improving communications, and providing insights.
  6. Show, don’t tell. Information overload, limited time, and the ubiquity of visual media all indicate that dashboards and other means of visual communication may best meet stakeholders’ needs.
  7. Cultivate relationships. Rather than offer only critiques, internal audit must partner with the business and functions in order to credibly provide advice and anticipate issues.
  8. Start with a strategy. A strategy that addresses the elements of time, talent, and relationships can enable a Chief Audit Executive to navigate a transition to new roles and transform the internal audit function.​

Understanding threshold performance

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