Protiviti has released the findings of the 2018 Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey.
In this podcast, Brian Christensen, Executive VP – Internal Audit & Financial Advisory, Protiviti talks about the key findings from the survey, use of analytics in auditing today, and why it is a game changer.
View the full survey, infographic, and more at protiviti.com/iasurvey.
Hello. This is Kevin Donahue, senior director with Protiviti, welcoming you to a new installment of Powerful Insights. I’m pleased today to be speaking with Brian Christensen. Brian is executive vice president for global internal audit and financial advisory for Protiviti. Brian, thanks for joining me today.
Good to be with you, Kevin.
Brian, I know we’re going to be talking about some of the key findings from Protiviti’s just-released report on the Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey, covering some of the things in our paper, Analytics and Auditing Is a Game Changer.
Brian, let’s jump right in. In looking over the results, what struck you the most in terms of the findings regarding the use of analytics in auditing today?
Kevin, we always find interesting observations in our annual survey on internal audit capabilities and needs assessment. As we look through the findings for 2018, one thing does jump off the table, and that’s use of data analytics. It is a game changer, as we know in our documented piece, but it’s also an opportunity. Everyone’s talking about data analytics, introducing robotics and how to enhance the process, and data analytics can truly enhance and be something that transforms an internal audit function. As we look at what’s taking place, people have been talking about this now for a couple of years, but the pace of change, which is absolutely critical, is not occurring at a level or a pace that’s fast enough to really satisfy the stakeholders, in my opinion.
Brian, one of the things we comment about in our paper is the fact that many functions likely are undertaking point to solutions with regard to use of analytics, as opposed to maybe a broader initiative. What does that mean, exactly?
Yes, Kevin, that’s a key insight there. I think it really comes down to is the fact that traditional audit functions have skill sets that they’ve enhanced over the years by looking at points of attack – maybe a particular control or a particular tool. They haven’t stepped back and looked at the holistic approach of how to apply data analytics, and I think that’s the game changer. An opportunity exists for chief audit executives to really look at how they can retool their function, train their people, give them the opportunity to succeed in applying data analytics, because if they do, they will find there’s a rich vein of information that can be drawn out and applied to an organization to really help and enhance not only the internal audit function but also management’s reporting and the ability to work together.
I’ll remind our audience now that those interested in reading our paper and seeing other information from the study can visit protiviti.com/iasurvey.
Brian, one other note regarding analytics here, and that ties into audit committee engagement. There was what I thought was an interesting takeaway regarding the audit committee engagement and the level of information they’re getting. What did that tell us, exactly?
Well, Kevin, the finding there was very interesting as well, and that is that audit teams that are engaged in sharing information with the audit committees report having a higher level of satisfaction from those stakeholders with the internal auditor. What I think that really means to us is, the more you can provide valuable information – insightful information to that stakeholder, whether it’s an audit committee chair, the audit committee in general or even management overall – it demonstrates the value that internal audit is trying to convey and to fashion with quantifiable data and information that really can enhance the business. I think that is a tremendous opportunity that everyone should be seeking today.
Great, Brian. Let me toss one more question at you in our time left today. In a new addition to our study this year, we asked respondents to name their audit plan priorities in effect for 2018. In assessing the results, we could see the top priorities are things like fraud risk management, cyber security risk, vendor third-party risk and even auditing corporate culture. What did that list say to you, and how does that sync up with what you’re seeing in the market today?
Kevin, I think one of the things that tells me is - I will recap a recent conversation I had with Richard Chambers, the president and CEO of The Institute for Internal Auditors. In a conversation I was having with him, we observed the fact that there has probably never been a better time for internal audit executives to have conversations around a number of things that affect the business. As I look to the priorities for 2018, it covers many things: We’re talking about fraud. We’re talking about cyber. We’re talking about risk and compliance. We’re talking about auditing corporate culture.
Just a few years ago, these were items that weren’t even on our agenda. Historically, if you looked at the old-school mind-set of internal audit, it was very compliance-driven. It was check-the-box going through this, and I think the ample number of topics that we have on our survey and that we’re seeing in the field really speaks to the importance of internal auditors. I would offer to our audience that’s listening today that frankly, if you are able to engage on these topics with your stakeholders, there’s a tremendous upside for not only the internal audit professionals within the organization but also that leader that’s helping drive and respond to these factors.
Brian, I want to thank you very much for joining me today to discuss some of the key findings from Protiviti’s 2018 Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey.
For those in our audience interested in additional information, please visit protiviti.com/iasurvey, where you can find our report on this year’s study, Analytics and Auditing Is a Game Changer.