Survey of Internal Audit Leaders Finds Cybersecurity and Human Capital to Be the Highest Risks Across the Globe
LAKE MARY, FL – September 28, 2023 – The Internal Audit Foundation, part of The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA), today released the first-ever Global Risk in Focus report series, which surveyed internal audit leaders across Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America to get a pulse on the greatest risks impacting their regions. The report found that cybersecurity (73%) and human capital (51%) are currently the most prevalent risks across the globe.
Global Risk in Focus provides practical, data-driven research to help internal auditors and their stakeholders understand the current risk landscape and prepare internal audit plans for the years ahead. The research represents an ambitious expansion of the European Institutes Research Group’s annual Risk in Focus report and provides the first global view of risks from an internal audit perspective.
“I’m excited to share our Risk in Focus methodology with other regions around the world so that, together, we can have a full understanding of global risks facing boards and internal auditors,” said Pascale Vandenbussche, Secretary-General for the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA).
“For internal auditors, there’s nothing more important than good data,” said IIA President and CEO Anthony Pugliese, CIA, CPA, CGMA, CITP. “By creating this global look at risks from an internal audit perspective, we’re providing an invaluable resource that allows internal auditors and their organizations to understand risk in an unprecedented way and raise these risks with their boards in a solution-oriented manner. Not only can practitioners dig deeper into risks within their regions, but they can also see how these risks are impacting the global business landscape. With this new information, internal auditors will be able to help their organizations navigate the current risk landscape and also take steps to be better prepared for future risks.”
Global Risk in Focus is a series of reports customized for six global regions. Each region features two resources: 1) Hot Topics for Internal Auditors and 2) a Board Briefing summary that internal auditors can share with stakeholders. The reports are based on the results of a survey to identify current and emerging risks for each region, with additional insights gleaned through focus groups and interviews to discover leading practices for internal auditors. Although there were many similarities across regions, unique themes did emerge for each region.
- Cybersecurity (73%), human capital (51%), business continuity (47%), regulatory change (39%), and digital disruption (34%) are the top five risks that chief audit executives (CAEs) see currently impacting their organizations across the globe.
- Over the next three years, CAEs across all regions expect risk levels to increase dramatically for digital disruption (34% to 55%) and climate change (19% to 39%).
- North American respondents view cybersecurity (85%), human capital (65%), and regulatory change (43%) as the top three risks currently impacting their organizations.
Recommendations for Boards
The reports are a useful discussion point for internal auditors to work with their boards and audit committees to get ahead of rapidly changing risks, and a means to promote greater collaboration with stakeholders both within and beyond their businesses.
“The insights from the Global Risk in Focus reports will serve as an essential tool for chief audit executives as they begin developing next year’s internal audit plan,” said Javier Faleato, IIA Executive Vice President, Global Strategy & Affiliate Relations, and Executive Director, Internal Audit Foundation. “We encourage CAEs to use this report as a tool to open a dialogue with their audit committees and senior management to identify the most relevant risks for their organizations in the current business environment.”
Global Risk in Focus is a collaborative partnership facilitated by the Internal Audit Foundation with regional reports sponsored by AuditBoard in North America, ARABCIIA in the Middle East, AFIIA in Africa, ECIIA in Europe, FLAI in Latin America, and ACIIA in Asia Pacific, along with support from local IIA Institutes.
The Risk in Focus methodology starts with a survey of CAEs and directors to identify current and emerging risks for each region. The top risks identified in the survey are used in follow-up roundtables and interviews with CAEs, academics, and other industry experts.
The survey presents 16 risk categories. Respondents are asked to choose the top 5 highest for risk level and the top 5 highest for internal audit time and effort – both for now and three years in the future.
For the Risk in Focus 2024 project worldwide, survey responses were received from 4,207 CAEs and directors in 111 countries/territories. Eighteen roundtables were conducted with 152 participants, followed by 40 in-depth interviews.