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​Unprecedented Study to Improve Practice of Internal Auditing Globally 

LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA — To meet the ever-demanding needs of their stakeholders, today's internal auditors must move beyond traditional internal control and assurance activities and sharpen their focus on risk management, governance processes, and enhanced use of audit technology and automated tools. These are just a few of the findings uncovered by The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation's (IIARF's) groundbreaking 2010 Global Internal Audit Survey, released today from The IIA's General Audit Management Conference in Las Vegas. The study, a component of The IIARF's ongoing Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) project, represents a two-year effort to collect and analyze responses from 13,582 practitioners in 22 languages and more than 107 countries. It's the most comprehensive global study ever conducted on the practice of internal auditing, and its completion — marked by the release of five survey analysis reports — signifies merely the early stages of an unprecedented effort to understand and improve the practice of internal auditing globally.

"This study enables us to document past trends and changes, anticipate future trends and changes, and provide practicing internal auditors with ideas and information about best practices in internal auditing," says Yass Alkafaji, associate professor of accounting at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and a member of one of the five CBOK research teams.

According to the global survey, 80 percent of respondents foresee an increase in their risk management activities, and 23 percent project more corporate governance reviews in the next five years. A number of factors are contributing to the heightened focus, including: (1) the increasing frequency and complexity of major risk events, (2) the fact that internal audit activities have stepped up their coverage of many risks in response to serious control breakdowns in the financial services sector, (3) the rethinking of risk oversight by audit committees and boards, and (4) The IIA's International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing (Standards) requirement that internal auditors evaluate governance and risk management capabilities.

The study also found that approximately half of participating organizations expect to recruit more staff during the next five years, and the two skills in greatest demand are: (1) understanding the business, and (2) knowledge of risk analysis and control assessment techniques. Moreover, researchers identified a growing need for specialized training in data collection and analysis, operational research, and new audit tools and technologies due to the changing nature of internal audit procedures and their increasing automation.

“This study represents the most comprehensive and valuable insight into the global practice of internal auditing that has ever been assembled. The researchers have done a terrific job in synthesizing the results and providing key data for a blueprint for The IIA in serving the profession,” said IIA President and CEO Richard Chambers, CIA, CGAP, CCSA. “It provides an empirical demonstration of the dramatic shift we’ve seen take place since the financial crisis. Organizations are recognizing the harmful impact of inadequate corporate governance and the significant risk it poses to the effectiveness of the risk management function; internal auditors are naturally following the risks and aligning their coverage in response to their stakeholders’ changing expectations.”

The IIA’s Global Internal Audit Survey's initial five-report analysis provides a snapshot of the profession worldwide and offers a wealth of tangible information to help chief audit executives (CAEs) and their teams make decisions and plan future initiatives regarding internal audit staffing, compliance with The IIA's Standards, and the role of the internal audit activity. The first four reports examine:

  • Characteristics of an internal audit activity, including demographics, staffing levels, and reporting relationships.
  • The most important competencies for today’s internal auditors as well as compliance with The IIA’s Standards.
  • Measurement of the value of internal auditing to the organization.
  • Perceived changes in the roles of the internal audit activity over the next five years.

The fifth report, Imperatives for Change: The IIA’s Global Internal Audit Survey in Action, builds on the findings of the first four reports. It contains overall conclusions and observations from the Global Internal Audit Survey as well as a related 2010 CBOK component, Stakeholders' Expectations and Perceptions Survey, which sought feedback from nearly 200 internal audit stakeholders in the United States. The Imperatives for Change report highlights 10 imperatives and includes detailed action items to help CAEs address each imperative:

  1. Sharpen your focus on risk management and governance.
  2. Conduct a more responsive and flexible risk-based audit plan.
  3. Develop a strategic vision for internal auditing.
  4. Focus, monitor, and report on internal auditing's value.
  5. Strengthen audit committee communications and relationships.
  6. View compliance with The IIA's Standards as mandatory, not optional.
  7. Acquire and develop top talent.
  8. Enhance training for internal audit activities.
  9. Take advantage of expanding service provider membership.
  10. Step up your use of audit technology and tools.

The Imperatives for Change report provides a high-level global analysis and detailed roadmap to help CAEs around the world strategically position their internal audit functions for long-term success. Still, it merely scratches the surface of the vast CBOK data collected. "It's my hope that these reports will provide a basis for many future discussions about the profession, raise additional questions, and pave the way for future practitioner-based research," says IIARF Vice President Bonnie Ulmer. "In 2015, we'll conduct the third IIA Global Internal Audit Survey and continue to map the changing perspectives on internal audit practices around the world."

The five Global Internal Audit Survey research reports as well as A Call to Action: Stakeholders' Perspective on Internal Auditing are available from The IIARF Bookstore.

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*Researchers:

Report I
Yass Alkafaji, DBA, CPA, CFE, Munir A. Majdalawieh, PhD, Ashraf Khallaf, PhD (American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) and Shakir Hussain, PhD (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom).

Report II
James A. Bailey, PhD, CIA, CPA (Utah Valley University, United States).

Report III
Jiin-Feng Chen, PhD, CIA, CPA, and Wan-Ying Lin, DBA (National Chengchi University, Taiwan, Republic of China).

Report IV
Georges M. Selim, PhD, FIIA, and Robert Melville, MBCS CITP, CFIIA (Cass Business School, United Kingdom), Gerrit Sarens, PhD, CIA, CCSA (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium), and Marco Allegrini, PhD, CPA, and Giuseppe D’Onza, PhD (University of Pisa, Italy).

Report V
Richard J. Anderson, CPA, CFSA (De Paul University, United States) and J. Christopher Svare (Partners in Communication, United States).