Internal Audit is a multifaceted place to start a career. Working in internal audit is a crash course in every part of an organization’s operations. Auditors gain experience in operations, communication, writing, presentations, critical thinking, data analytics, and persuasion. This article will help you market the fantastic opportunity of an internal audit career to the next generation.
How to Market an Internal Audit Career?
In the past, an internal audit career was often sold as “protecting shareholder value” or as an “independent watchdog” for financial statements. The upcoming generations are more concerned with making a meaningful impact to those around them and on the world. As we consider hiring the next generation of internal auditors, it is critical to understand the appeal of audit that will draw the next generation of applicants to an internal audit career. One of the best ways to do this is to consider where the profession is going over the next five years. For example, internal audit will need to address many emerging risk areas globally, such as cybersecurity, climate change, and discrimination.
An internal audit career involves addressing globally relevant, emerging risks from an organizational perspective while applying cutting-edge data analytics and business intelligence tools.
How to Explain the Internal Audit Career Progression?
Many newcomers to the profession will ask about internal audit career progression and growth. The internal audit career path varies among internal audit functions, but not by much. The primary internal audit career path includes:
- Staff auditors who focus on testing
- Senior/lead auditors who test and review other auditor’s work
- Managers who ensure the audit objectives are met
- Directors who lead the team, perform risk assessments, and monitor the audit plan
- Chief Audit Executive who sets the direction for the department and engages with senior leadership
In my experience, it is also crucial to set clear expectations with potential entry-level auditors about promotions and timing. For your organization, explain the typical requirements to up the internal audit career path. How many years of work experience does it take? Is certification required? Are there different requirements for information systems auditors?
How to Source the Brightest Next Generation of Auditors?
We have a unique opportunity to reshape the future of our departments right now. The pandemic has shifted most organizations to a work from home (WFH) model. Teams have proven they can be just as effective, if not more effective, working remotely. Now we can hire without regard for location. With a wide-open field, we can tap into resources that were never available before. With this, it’s also important to share with candidates how your internal audit department stays connected. When you are hiring, look for entry-level auditors from colleges with internal audit programs that The Institute of Internal Auditors has endorsed.
If you are looking for experienced auditors, we can now hire former public accounting, risk management, and internal auditors by advertising remote positions. The job postings should highlight what makes your department stand out, like the types of audits, the level of data analytics involved, work travel destinations, and audit approach (i.e., traditional or agile). We can also tap into the population of auditors who are affected by a pandemic-related layoff or furlough. Many in this group have expanded their skill set during the pandemic, and they are ready for a new challenge.
By highlighting a value-centric view of internal audit, we will be successful at marketing the value of audit to the next generation of internal auditors. Current and future internal auditors play a critical role as trusted advisors to organizational leaders — by understanding how we add value, we can drive positive change to our organizations’ control environments and overall success.
Kelly Tomlin Hirschfield, CPA, was a Manager of Solutions Advisory Services at AuditBoard. Prior to joining AuditBoard, Kelly spent 6 years with Deloitte in Atlanta leading financial statement audits on both private and publicly-traded clients in various industries including real estate, consumer products, distribution, and manufacturing. Connect with Kelly on LinkedIn.