Internal Audit Has a Bad Reputation

Internal audit has a bad reputation.

And… unlike Joan Jett’s great song, this is a bad reputation you should give a damn about.

I understand if you don’t believe me, in fact don’t believe me, just read this, answer the questions below, watch the videos and then let me know if you agree or think I’m full of you-know-what.

For years internal audit has had their budgets cut, positions have been downgraded, has been outsourced, has been relegated to working in low risk areas of organizations, has been excluded from meetings, and other functions within companies have been created that often do what internal audit used to do.

Do you think those are coincidences, or maybe is it a trend you should consider?

I didn’t waste my time or money going to the GAM conference this year.

I was talking with a friend of mine who did go (partner in one of the large firms) who told me they had the thought go through their head of why are they wasting their time. All of the sessions were effectively what we’ve been talking about for years. Nothing new, just repackaged with different titles. Rinse and repeat.

In fact, this person even confessed to me that they thought it was time to “kill internal audit and start over” and the same thought has crossed my mind.

Trouble is obviously what the profession has been doing isn’t working, and this doesn’t seem to be something the profession is willing to take a hard look in the mirror and fix. If that were the case most people wouldn’t act like ostriches with their heads in the sand, running around singing la, la, la with their fingers in their ears, and pat each other on the back and say what a good job we are doing while the C-Suite is having a very different conversation.

The sad truth is many have lost sight of the fact that internal audit doesn’t exist for the profession’s sake. You don’t work for the profession. You work for your organization and your organization doesn’t give a damn if your audits are following professional standards.

Now I realize for some of you things may be going just fine, but in my decades in this profession that’s only about 10% of the people. You hear case studies about how well certain people are doing but when you look deeper these are large departments with big budgets and a very supportive C-Suite. Most internal audit organizations have 5 or fewer people with a very limited budget. And sadder still, most of the people who think things are going well are actually in the 90% that are struggling and don’t even realize it.

Here’s a few questions for you to ask yourself, and then watch the videos below…

  • Are people excited to see you, or are they scared when you show up?
  • Are you more concerned about completing your audits, or developing relationships in the organization?
  • Do people ask for your advice?
  • Do you get excluded from meetings?
  • Do you have to beg and plead for your budget?
  • Do you get told NO more than you hear YES?
  • Do you get told you are too detailed, too technical, too aggressive, too harsh, too… fill in the blank?

How long are you going to continue being treated like a second-class citizen in your organization?

Some of the best advice I every received in my career was from an Audit Committee member who told me, “Jason, you have to do what is right for you and for your family.”

You see, I was at a transition point and needed to make some decisions, and I needed to decided and choose what was best for me. That is something you need to decide also.

  • Are you going to jump into a life boat and do what is best for you, your team, and your organization?
  • Are you going to keep doing what you are doing and stay on the profession’s ship that is circling the drain?

When you are ready to be more strategic and less tactical. When you are ready to focus more on relationships that just completing audits. When you are ready to communicate effectively instead of writing report. When you are ready to start adding real value to your organization instead of checking boxes and going through the motions, let me know or Schedule a Call.

And… as I told you at the start, unlike Joan Jett’s great song, this is a bad reputation you should give a damn about. Your career depends on it.