Book Review: Internal Auditing Around the World

Profiles of Internal Audit Functions at Leading International Companies, Volume 1 (June 2005, 54 pages) and Volume 2 (June 2006, 55 pages)
Published by Protiviti Inc. (free download available at www.protiviti.com)

Reviewed by Heriot C. Prentice

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MAY 2007 - Internal audit is a global profession that practices by a set of international standards (International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing), a code of ethics, and practice advisories that can be found in the Professional Practices Framework of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA; www.theiia.org). While all internal auditors follow this guidance, many organizations strive for improvement. These volumes provide insight into the working practices of the internal audit function of multinational organizations of varying size that have developed and honed their audit skills and are recognized as industry leaders in this field.

Volume 1 focuses on the audit profession’s core issues, such as corporate governance, ethics, fraud, risk, and controls. It also provides some common themes that other companies can adopt as a way to improve their practices. While 13 organizations are featured, Protiviti makes it clear that many others have committed to excellence and may be featured in subsequent editions.

The report is helpful to internal audit professionals as well as those who have not yet joined the profession or who know very little about internal audit. It is a must-read for CEOs, CFOs, CPAs, audit committee members, boards of directors, and others in business who continually seek improvement and best practices.
The 13 companies share several key themes that are common to all that wish to deliver high performance in the development of an internal audit function:

  • Corporate governance: Tone at the top.
  • Quality assurance/performance measurement: Are we doing things correctly? How can we improve?
  • Risk management: Internal controls, principles, and values.
  • People: Recruit talented people with a variety of skills.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act: For the U.S. companies featured, this was a major point; the main theme was to seek operational effectiveness and efficiencies.

Although the companies featured are industry leaders, they continue to strive for improvement in their working practices, to seek greater efficiencies and effectiveness in their organizations, and to become truly global leaders in the area of internal audit.

Volume 2 builds on the 13 global companies featured in Volume 1. It provides insight into the operational practices of 14 global companies that have gone beyond standard internal audit practices and have developed and delivered operational effectiveness and added value, and have implemented both innovative and best practices across their companies on a global basis.

Some of the common themes discussed in Volume 1 have shifted because the dynamics of our business environment changed in only one short year. A main theme that stands out in both volumes, however, is the importance of people. Human resources is a critical factor in any business, even more so in the internal audit function because good companies are always on the lookout for highly intelligent people with diverse knowledge to staff multifunctional teams. There has never been a better time to be an internal auditor, but demands for staff are high.

As with the first volume, this publication is a must-read for CEOs, CFOs, CPAs, audit committee members, and boards of directors who continually seek improvement and new challenges within their organization or for those they serve.

This report highlights each company individually and explores the various ways in which they have created and grown their internal audit function. The companies range in size and global stature. This provides a great benefit because it allows readers to benchmark what has worked effectively at a certain company and to assess what may work for them. The company selection provides a great variety among business sectors, again adding great value when trying to benchmark an organization against them.

Although the report examines only 14 high-level companies, several key best- practice themes are necessary for any company that wants to deliver high performance in the internal audit function:

  • Organization: Implement a top-down, risk-based approach.
  • People: Hire the best people, with varied backgrounds. Use internal audit as part of management training and for career development and progression.
  • Process: Performance measurement, relationship management, client satisfaction.
  • Co-sourcing: If a company lacks the internal audit skills it needs internally, it should buy them.

Company executives are now far more accountable, with far greater emphasis on corporate governance and tone at the top. The internal audit profession is still growing and as such continues to develop better practices to create efficiency and effectiveness in the business world, ensuring that stakeholders are protected by strong internal controls and better working practices. As the profession continues to grow, I look forward to future volumes or editions in this series as a check on where we are as professional internal auditors.


Heriot C. Prentice, MIIA, FIIA, QiCA, is the director of technology practices at the Institute of Internal Auditors (www.theiia.org).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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