Internal audit leaders as talent warriors

Winning the war for talent, now and in the future

September 2020

The role of internal audit (IA) functions are evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of organisations. While the core mission of IA—to provide assurance that risks and controls are being appropriately addressed—remains the same, future-focussed IA groups are also acting as trusted advisers to first- and second-line functions. They are also working to anticipate risks before they emerge as events. Our paper shares insights to help you win the war for talent and understand how your role as an IA leader may need to evolve.


In light of digital disruption and emerging risks, internal auditors need to:

  • understand strategies and business models
  • understand uses of data and new technologies
  • move from rigidly planned rotational audits to more agile, timely approaches
  • combine leading-edge skills with traditional audit capabilities to deliver the type, level, and timeliness of service that stakeholders now demand.

Meeting these needs requires new skills and capabilities within IA. Traditional audit skills are still needed but technology-enabled, nimble thinkers, who are more consultative in nature and have strong executive presence, are also needed—those who can hold their own with business partners.

Our key findings

  • Identify needed skills and capabilities: Our research has identified missing skills or talent as the most common barrier to IA's ability to make more of an impact within the organisation. Without the right skills and capabilities, IA will likely not be able to act on strategic priorities, nor keep pace with stakeholders’ evolving needs and expectations.
  • Assess current skills and capabilities against needs: A robust assessment can enable you to gauge capabilities against current and future needs. The goal is to identify skills and capabilities needed, now and in the future, which you lack or cannot adequately access.
  • Select and implement methods of filling gaps: IA leaders have an unprecedented range of options for filling skill gaps, including developing current staff, tapping into talent within the broader organisation, and accessing external talent. However, IA functions do not appear to be taking full advantage of these talent sourcing options.
  • Recruit, reward, and retain needed talent: IA will be increasingly staffed by a broader spectrum of employees. As a result, IA leaders need to understand on a discipline-by-discipline or person-by-person basis which recruitment strategies and rewards programmes will best identify, motivate, and retain specific types of talent and people.

Looking ahead

Given the risks and opportunities that organisations and their IA functions now face—and the strategic and financial stakes—there is little reason to accept lack of talent as a barrier to fulfilling stakeholders’ expectations, and every reason to use all of the resources at your command.

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