People and Talent
A host of talent- and skills-related issues represent significant challenges for CAEs and internal audit leaders and teams. In fact, not only do people-related concerns – specifically, the ability to recruit qualified candidates and retain and upskill people – top the list of perceived barriers or inhibitors to increasing internal audit’s focus on innovation and transformation activities, but CAEs also view these challenges to be more significant compared with other internal audit professionals. This aligns to the results of our latest global survey of board members and C-suite executives, which show that talent, culture and the future of work continue to be pervasive challenges for organisations worldwide both today and over the next decade.
Which of the following HR/people-related areas are concerns for the internal audit organisation today? (Multiple responses permitted)
What our research reveals
- Internal audit functions at the high end of our Next-Generation Internal Audit 10-point maturity scale are more likely to have access to the necessary talent and skills for the different competencies under Governance, Methodology and Enabling Technology.
- Conversely, within organisations at the lower end of the overall Next-Generation Internal Audit maturity scale, there needs to be stronger focus on resource and talent management. Less mature functions lack the same level of access to resources and talent management that more mature functions have. Of note, these challenges can be overcome through effective planning and execution around training and development, exploring opportunities to co-source various internal audit activities, and establishing rotation or guest resource programs.
- Internal audit leaders can also take steps to create a culture and environment that is both nurturing and attractive to talent, in terms of development opportunities, exploration and application of emerging skills and tools, and an overall focus on innovation, high performance and continuous improvement.
- Interestingly, across most Next-Generation Internal Audit competencies, training and developing staff is the most-cited strategy for securing talent and skills. However, doing so does not tightly correlate to greater Next-Generation Internal Audit maturity, suggesting CAEs should explore other strategies to secure talent, including co-sourcing arrangements – with knowledge transfer included, as a best practice – and rotation/guest resource programs.
- Top HR concerns for higher-maturity internal audit functions are focused on keeping their employees aligned and tapped into their culture, while lower-maturity internal audit groups tend to be more concerned about being able to recruit and train their employees, suggesting creating a culture and environment of belonging, learning and engagement – focused on improving the overall team member experience – is a key to talent success.
The importance that internal audit leaders place on talent and skills gaps amid growing economic uncertainty, recent layoffs and cost optimisation measures, new cybersecurity risks, and a procession of global crises underscores the fact that access to talent and skills is more than a near-term concern. Rather, it represents a long-term challenge but also an opportunity, especially for internal audit leaders willing and determined to make team member experience a priority and a differentiating factor for their function.
Talent and skills shortcomings appear to be most acute in technology-related internal audit areas, and while the survey specifically addresses technology-related capabilities related to analytics, AI and automation, internal audit leaders are equally focused on their team’s abilities to audit and provide risk assurance and insight over topics related to emerging technologies and other technology risk priorities such as cyber, cloud, resilience and data governance.
The rapid embrace of digital and virtual technologies across all industries and organisation types has intensified competition for technology talent and, in turn, the need to upskill and retrain internal auditors. These obstacles continue to drive CAEs to innovate their approaches to access the skills they need to leverage data, automation and advanced technologies that will enable their teams to thrive as relevant, high-value Next-Generation Internal Audit functions.
Of note, within many internal audit organisations, the use of co-sourcing – to support needs related to both capacity and capability – is increasing, especially for difficult-to-find technological skill sets such as machine learning and AI, automation systems audit and continuous monitoring, as well as for a broad range of hard-to-hire and hard-to retain technical skillsets.
Beyond the deployment of more innovative sourcing approaches to secure talent and skills, our research reveals a number of other people and talent bright spots. For one, there are high levels of senior executive and board support for acquiring or developing the necessary talent across all Next-Generation Internal Audit areas (Governance, Methodology and Enabling Technology). Furthermore, the use of hybrid and remote working environments does not appear to be restricting internal audit’s ability to manage people and talent when establishing accountability, cultivating trust, administering training, and fostering a sense of belonging. This is a good indicator that internal audit groups have adapted to and are embracing hybrid working models and future of work approaches that more employees prefer.
Less mature internal audit functions lack the same level of access to resources and talent management that more mature functions have.
Do senior management and the board/committees support acquiring or developing the necessary talent and skills related to Next-Generation capabilities in the internal audit function?
With respect to innovation, transformation and other internal audit priorities amid today's hybrid and remote working environments, how would you rate the efficacy of your internal audit organisation in managing your function's people and talent in the following areas? (Shown: All respondents)
|Trust: Ability to function as a team||Accountability: Achieving goals and objectives||Relationships: Sense of belonging||Talents: Monitoring skillsets and administering training|
Establishing and embedding performance management and culture-building activities is vital given the ongoing challenges CAEs have in attracting and retaining talent, as well as the hybrid and remote work environments most are still operating within. Our research shows that fewer than six in 10 internal audit functions have access to the talent they need across any of the 12 primary Governance, Methodology and Enabling Technology components. The most acute talent shortages are in Next-Generation Internal Audit areas related to machine learning and AI, process mining, aligned assurance, dynamic risk assessment, and automation. For these capabilities, a majority of organizations lack the necessary talent and skills to operate and transform these areas to optimize relevance and value.
Fewer than six in 10 internal audit functions have access to the talent they need across any of the 12 primary Governance, Methodology and Enabling Technology components.
CAEs and Audit Directors who are concerned about their ability to recruit qualified candidates to the internal audit organization.
Training and developing staff is the most-cited strategy for securing talent and skills.