Internal Auditors Know How To Market Themselves!

Internal Auditors Know How To Market Themselves!

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Most of us in internal audit leadership roles naturally assume that board members and management fully understand our capabilities and appreciate the value that internal audit can deliver. But do they really understand? And if they don’t, whose fault is that? All Internal Audit bodies and course providers exert lots of efforts to spread the word and create awareness through dynamic initiatives. Why? Because internal auditing is among perhaps the least understood professions. So, bodies can only benefit when they make a special effort to rally support from public officials, regulators, students, and the general public.

While it is important to reach each to those groups for public support, it’s critical that the connection with an even more important audience is there: The very core people behind this profession. Awareness begins at home. It begins with everything we do. We can win the battle but lose the war if we don’t redouble our efforts to improve communications with our key stakeholders. More than any other group, our organizations’ directors and executive management teams need to understand what we can do and the value we are capable of bringing to the table.

There is a strong possibility that our stakeholders don’t understand internal auditing as well as you might think. KPMG’s 2014 Global Audit Committee Survey indicates, for example, that more than 80% of board committee members believe internal audit’s role should extend beyond the adequacy of financial reporting and controls to include other key risks. But only 50 percent believe that internal audit currently has the skills and resources to be effective in the role they envision. If so many of our most important stakeholders do not believe we have the skills or resources to get the job done, then we haven’t done an effective job creating understanding and meeting expectations.

Too often, audit committee and other board members join an organization with preconceived ideas about internal audit’s capabilities. If they have been around strong internal audit functions steeped in talent and possessing a deep understanding of strategic business risks, they will expect the internal audit function in their new organization to perform at the same level. However, if they have been around weak and ineffective internal audit functions (or if this is their first association with internal audit), their expectations for our ability to deliver may be very limited. These are the stakeholders who present an excellent target for advocacy at home. We should never make the fatal mistake of meeting low expectations. Admittedly, many professions struggle with those who lack the training or other resources to be effective. But based upon the observation of hundreds of internal audit functions, the vast majority of internal audit departments do have the skills to be highly effective in the roles envisioned by their audit committees and management teams.

We have plenty of opportunities to enhance understanding of our profession. Let’s market ourselves the best way possible and start showing who we really are!