Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Successful Internal Auditor

Author:  Bob Sherby
             Financial Consultant – Accounting Management and Internal Audit

The Successful Internal Auditor

Talk to various financial managers about internal auditors and generally the first thing you’ll hear, is oh no, here comes the internal auditor.  If that is what you’re hearing, that auditor is unlikely to be worth what his/her company is paying for the services.  Why?  Because the auditor is not likely to get full cooperation and people will not be as open in providing information.

Having been on both sides of the desk in Controller and CFO roles and in my last position as Sr. Director of Internal Audit for a publicly traded company, I knew what I liked and didn’t like about internal auditors and I certainly wasn’t going to emulate the ones I didn’t like.  However, my advice could just as easily translate into how to be a successful manager as well.  Even in my last year as Sr. Director of Internal Audit, the people at the offices I visited were genuinely happy to see me as we had developed friendships over the years.  Despite those friendships, everyone that I dealt with knew that rule number one with me is that shown below in the footer, “trust but verify”.

To be a successful auditor, one needs to have the requisite technical skills but technical skills alone won’t help if the audit targets are wary of your visit or if your visit interferes with their priorities.  Below are the steps that helped keep me welcome throughout my last company during eight years as Director of Internal Audit:

Audit Planning
  • Determine the time you will need for the audit at the audit location and time period.
  • Outline the audit requirements and estimated time with the senior person at the office or unit being audited and ask them if there is a best time for the audit to take place.
  • Ask that the team members know of your visit and provide a brief of the type of information that will be required.
  • Schedule the audit for the best time for that unit.  Remember each person wants to help but they also have their own jobs to complete, and their jobs have a direct impact on their compensation.
Audit Execution
  • Ask for help, don’t demand it.  Request as much information in advance of your visit as possible.
  • Treat each individual in the subject unit with the same respect as you would the senior person.
  • When interviewing an individual who asks to reschedule due to priorities, give them available times and be flexible.
Audit Report
  • Don’t be a “gotcha” auditor.  When presenting the findings, provide the reason for the failure and present it as positively as possible. 
  • Present new cost effective controls or solutions that are likely to prevent future failures.
  • Thank all concerned for their help in completing the audit.

1 comment:

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