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Internal Audit Definition, Objectives, Types

Thus the purpose of internal audit is to make it easier for management to verify that all the functions in each of the departments are effectively being carried out. So internal audit is basically established as part of risk mitigation covering internal control, compliance, and operational performance. These activities are done independently, professionally, and systematically. The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has set the internationally recognized framework for internal auditing. These standards are applied by over 160,000 internal auditors who are working globally within the framework.

Internal auditors are hired by companies who work on behalf of their management teams. These audits also provide management with the tools necessary to attain operational efficiency by identifying problems and correcting lapses before they are discovered in an external audit. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes. Providing assurance to executive management and the board’s audit committee that risks are being managed effectively is not the exclusive domain of internal audit.

The company will have likely have set performance objectives or metrics that may be tied to performance bonuses or other incentives. As a result, an internal auditor assesses the outcome of an objective that may not be easily quantifiable. As companies become continually more environmentally conscious, some take the steps of reviewing the business’ impact on the planet. This results in an internal audit covering how a company safely sources raw materials, minimizes greenhouse gases during production, utilizes eco-friendly distribution methods, and reduces energy consumption. Companies leveraging triple bottom line reporting may perform internal environmental audits as part of annual reporting.

Unlike external auditors, they look beyond financial risks and statements to consider wider issues such as the organisation’s reputation, growth, its impact on the environment and the way it treats its employees. The internal audit process entails planning the audit, performing the audit procedures, compiling the audit report, and monitoring post-audit changes. Management may choose to expand the scope of an audit at any point of the audit if findings during the audit cause the scope to shift a different direction. An internal audit focused on performance pays less attention to the processes and more on the final result.

A primary focus area of internal auditing as it relates to corporate governance is helping the audit committee of the board of directors (or equivalent) perform its responsibilities effectively. This may include reporting critical management control issues, suggesting questions or topics for the audit committee’s meeting agendas, and coordinating with the external auditor and management to ensure the committee receives effective information. In recent years, the IIA has advocated more formal evaluation of corporate governance, particularly in the areas of board oversight of enterprise risk, corporate ethics, and fraud.

Risk Management and Compliance: A Closer Look at Internal Audits

Audit functions can adapt via new technologies (for example, collaboration tools), increased automation, and enhanced reporting mechanisms. These kinds of solutions can enable faster audit cycles and more timely reporting. Under later iterations of the model,[26] assurance from “external independent bodies” is seen as a fourth line of defence; here the external auditor, and others, provide assurance and insights to the Board and are “clearly seen to be independent”. Internal auditors have to be independent people who are willing to stand up and be counted. Their employers value them because they provide an independent, objective and constructive view.

  • The audit report describes how the audit was done, what it discovered and, if necessary, suggestions for what improvements could be made.
  • Internal Control Reviews at Sacramento State focus on the components of the University’s major business activities, such as cash handling, student fee stewardship, and grants and contracts.
  • We can still maintain professional skepticism, require verification of assertions, and follow the standards, but we must remember that to serve the audit mission best, we must create an atmosphere that is open to change.

It is a legal requirement for all financial statements from public companies to be audited by a third-party accountant, in accordance with the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. To be effective, the internal audit activity must have qualified, skilled and experienced people who can work in accordance with the Code of Ethics  and the International Standards. We are continually searching for innovative products and services to enhance our members’ ability to meet their rising stakeholder demands. In case the company has an internal audit in place, the detection of fraud becomes much easier. Once the elements are reformulated, you just have to make a general conclusion to finalize your audit report.

Step 2: Auditing

Additional controls may be required, including attestations that staff are able to secure data, and expanded compliance testing. Since IA often has access to vast stores of confidential data, it should also review its own security procedures, including items such as data-download capabilities and printing regimes. The primary role of internal-audit (IA) functions is to help decision makers protect organizational assets and reputations, as well as to support operational sustainability—functions that have come under increasing pressure over the past year. With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a sharp rise in home-based working, asset risks have increased, while a disrupted business environment has fueled uncertainty around reputations and sustainability.

This may lead to an internal financial audit, operational audit, compliance audit, environmental audit, IT audit, or a special one-time circumstance. Often, a company may deliver a draft copy of the final audit report and host a pre-close internal audit meeting with management. This may allow management to provide rebuttals, additional information that may change findings, or provide commentary on their feedback regarding the audit findings. Auditing fieldwork procedures can include transaction matching, physical inventory count, audit trail calculations, and account reconciliation as is required by law. Analysis techniques may test random data or target specific data if an auditor believes an internal control process needs to be improved.

During an internal audit, the employees of a company may often freely give advice, discuss unrelated matters with the company, or may have a very fluid consulting agreement. During an external audit, a very defined scope is often set, and the external auditor will often take great care to ensure they do not exceed their audit boundaries. The management of an organization may want the safety of having an independent audit team within the organization, that keeps a constant check on the accounting and finance practices. I think that this perspective (audits as a tool to make things better), benefits everyone as it sets a purpose to the activity (the audit), that it is about something bigger than just an evaluation, checklist, or monitoring. Transparency and accountability are key characteristics of audits, and I encourage auditees to respectfully ask questions and challenge your auditors on their work and findings. If the auditor cannot explain something to you or convince you of their viewpoint, there is an issue somewhere with perspective or communication, and you should seek clarification so that everyone is on the same page…to make the process better.

What is Internal Auditing?

The events of the past year have reinforced the reality that early identification of emerging risks is an essential element in identifying control weaknesses. Leading companies have responded by investing in advanced-analytics techniques. These have enabled audit teams to undertake a broader range of activities with a higher degree of accuracy across risk assessment, audit planning, and execution.

Internal Audit’s Role in Cybersecurity Strategy – Engaging and Adding Value to the Business

But in case of an internal audit, the mistakes are spotted as soon as they are made, and corrected immediately. In a financial audit, the auditor will be able to determine if any mistakes were made in the financial records. And in case of special transactions like sale, purchase or revaluation of the asset, the authorization of this is also audited in an internal audit. In the process of internal audit, there is always a valuation and verification of an asset. There is also a physical verification of the ownership and possession of the asset.

This sets the audit requirements, objectives, timeline, schedule, and responsibilities across audit team members. The audits may review prior audits to understand management expectations for presentation and data collection. In larger organizations, major strategic initiatives are implemented to achieve objectives and drive changes. As a member of senior management, the chief audit executive (CAE) may participate in status updates on these major initiatives. This places the CAE in the position to report on many of the major risks the organization faces to the audit committee, or ensure management’s reporting is effective for that purpose.


To manage these challenges and align capabilities with emerging risks, decision makers may take action in three no-regret areas, as outlined below. The Anti-Fraud Collaboration is dedicated to advancing the discussion of critical anti-fraud efforts through the development of thought leadership, awareness programs, educational opportunities. If your clients depend on you to provide efficient, compliant, and secure services, then the answer is a resounding “yes”. The guideline is to use words corresponding to the subjects to be developed. With a good preparation, the keywords are enough to introduce the questions with the audited ones. If you receive notification of an impending audit, please contact Auditing and Consulting Services immediately by clicking here.

However, for administrative purposes, this department also reports to the CEO or other executives. IIA Quality Services helps validate and strengthen your internal audit activity and enhances your effectiveness, efficiency, and successful practice implementation. The objective of internal audits is to identify areas of concern, present them to management in a balanced way and give ownership the information it needs to make an informed decision on how to correct deficiencies going forward. He began his career with Ernst & Young in 2003 where he developed his audit expertise over a number of years.

Internal audits may also entail evaluating the effectiveness/efficiency of critical business operations such as supply chain management. Internal auditors may cover all areas of an organization or specialize based on their skill-sets. Internal audits evaluate a company’s internal controls, including its corporate governance and accounting processes. These types of audits ensure compliance with laws and regulations and help to maintain accurate and timely financial reporting and data collection.

The article “Doing an internal audit of the sales department” will propose you to deploy the methodology with a concrete example. Normally, this department is not an operational department, and its activities are independently performed and out of the control of executive management. Internal audit is an independent and objective consulting service, which is designed to add value to the business and improve the entity’s operation. Internal audit is more interested in helping and organization unit than in locating and reporting episodic, non-systemic errors. Internal auditing programs are critical for monitoring and assuring that all of your business assets have been properly secured and safeguarded from threats.

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