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Internal audit: Soaring through turbulent times

Global audit committee survey

Our 2020 survey focused on board and audit committee members, with senior Deloitte partners conducting 1-on-1 interviews to address a formal series of questions as well as engaging in free-ranging discussions. The survey collected insights from more than 60 board members, audit committee chairs, and audit committee members representing more than 140 companies (many members sit on more than one board or committee), from 20 countries in every region, including every major industry sector. We canvassed both Fortune 500 companies and smaller organisations, those with innovative internal audit groups and those with more-traditional functions.

Survey Highlights

The survey results both reinforced our earlier messages and introduced some new thinking. It is clear that whilst good progress has been made in the internal audit profession over the last few years, significant changing conditions and rising expectations demand that more headway be made—and quickly. As said by Peter F. Drucker in Managing in Turbulent Times (1980): “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence itself, but to act with yesterday's logic.”

In order to meet the rising expectations of our evolving world, the following suggestions and areas of interest were identified in the survey:

  1. The role of internal Audit: There is no longer a debate as to whether internal audit should conduct advisory work. Internal audit must move the needle toward more advisory work. What does the function need to do differently in order to be seen as a problem solver rather than a nuisance and something to be avoided? 
  2. Talent: IA needs to team for success both within and outside the function, to drive progress. Think less about “auditors of the future” and more about “teams of the future.” Augment their teams with complementary, non-traditional skillsets, not just technical skills. 
  3. Budget: Internal audit groups with the greatest impact are not necessarily those with biggest budget. IA budgets aren’t likely to increase so it’s not about doing more with less but doing different with less.
  4. Psychological Safety: Fostering trust and open communications will drive progress and Internal Audit has an active role to play here whether that is helping the second line to improve, working more closely with management or thinking about how the results of IA work can be positioned in a way that encourages control issues to be surfaced and addressed.
  5. Reporting: There is a still considerable room for improvement here. IA can tailor their output to better Inform stakeholders of emerging concerns, before they become critical. The PoV presents a number of practical ideas to help improve here.

This publication was released by our Global firm.

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