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August 01, 2021
By Ashutosh Pednekar
7 Min Read
A to Z of a Good Internal Auditor

The IA-101 is one of the flagship programmes at the BCAS Internal Audit Committee. We delve into the basics of what is internal audit and what is expected of an internal auditor. And what better to share my thoughts on what can be the traits of a good internal auditor, other than doing it alphabetically. So here it goes the A to Z of a good internal auditor.

A Audit That is what we are required to do. First, foremost and last. Let us keep executing to the best of our abilities with the sole focus that audit objectives are achieved.
B Books of Account Whatever happens in a commercial entity finally resides in the books of account. Even when we are reviewing processes, the final outcome of that process has to flow into the financial statements and these emanate from books of account. As auditors, we can go back to the golden rules of accounting to determine if this impact is properly captured.
C Curiosity Curiosity may have killed the cat; but the cat has 9 lives. An internal auditor has 1 life and needs to harness his / her curiosity to reach an audit conclusion. Right curiosity levels to seek right answers will only enhance audit value.
D Diligent, not Dogmatic As an internal auditor we definitely do need to be diligent and not dogmatic. Businesses are dynamic, innovative, keep changing courses and keep changing processes. Internal auditors need to be equally diligent, if not more agile and innovative to keep pace with the business. It is only then audit objectives will be met.
E Enthusiasm Approach each aspect of the IA cycle with enthusiasm. Lack of enthusiasm will drive down the outcome of the audit. An auditor needs to be excited of the audit tasks to be done to deliver an effective report.
F Forensic The next frontier for us internal auditors. As demands of stakeholders change, we need to gear ourselves to foray into the domain of forensics.
G Gravitas A quality that has to be inherent in an internal auditor without which delivery of audit planning, execution and reporting will not be achieved.
H Humility A trait that is pre-requisite for being an efficient and effective internal auditor. We need to set aside our egos and not boast of our achievements. Humility is what will drive home the auditor’s point.
I Internal This is something an internal auditor should never forget. We are internal to the organization. Period. We may be out-sourced / co-sourced but our responsibilities are and will always remain “internal” to the auditee entity, albeit within the independence domain of an auditor.
J Juggler We should categorise our role in various jobs to be done. As expectations rise the jobs to be done by us rise too. We need to juggle them effectively. We may handle them one at a time or if required, simultaneously. Focus remains on the end objective of internal audit as we go about these jobs.
K Keenness We need to have the keenness for details. The devil lies in it. An alert eye and ear (goes without saying, we are auditors!!) is required to deliver the audit.
L Learn Ron Weber says that an auditor needs to know more about the business then the businessman himself. Whether it is true or not is a different matter but as auditors there is no option but to learn and keep learning. It is an ever ascending requirement that needs to be met on continuous basis.
M Moderation We love to hold our views, especially when the audit report carries our recommendation. Please practice moderation. Learn to appreciate the other view. It will only lead to better quality output.
N NexGen Child is the father of man. Applies to experienced auditors. Listen to the next generation and learn from them. As businesses become more technology driven the NexGen will have an edge for better understanding of processes. Use their knowledge and mix it with your experience of risks and controls. Audit outcome will surely end up a notch or two higher.
O Objectivity Objectivity is an ingrained trait in an internal auditor. I have experienced in discussions of tricky control issues and initially not acceptable recommendations; the objective attitude of the internal auditor does become infectious and changes the tone of the deliberations for better.
P Pleasure Audits have to be pleasurable. The moment the internal auditor feels that audit is a drudgery, the effectiveness will not just diminish, but can vanish too. It is upto us to devise techniques and practices that makes audits a pleasure.
Q Query Basic principle of audit – raise a query when you notice something in your audit execution. Do not hesitate. It is fine even if the query is something mundane or basic. The skill lies in you being guided by your experienced seniors on how to convert the query into an effective audit observation.
R Re-learn As internal auditors we need to accept that re-learning is a continuous task. We need to keep unlearning and relearning as businesses, processes, techniques and technology evolve. There is no stopping here. Ever!
S Style Each internal auditor needs to develop his / her individual style. As we conduct more and more audits, it is our style that will be our identity. The style of internal audit will need to transcend across compliance with auditing standards, professionalism and communication. Once the style is developed, the auditee will also be aware of it and will know what to expect.  This will help make the audit process smoother.
T Technology There is no escape from technology if the internal auditor has to remain relevant. There is hardly, if ever anything at all that is not touched by technology. As internal auditors we need to embrace all new technologies relevant to us as auditors as well as understand the new technologies implemented by the auditee. This will ensure that the auditee respects the internal auditor and the internal auditor has the confidence to deliver a high quality output.
U Utilitarian We need to be utilitarian. Our conduct and performance need to be of such standards that the auditee sees the utility in us. A conscious effort is required  by us to establish this and be recognized for it.
V Vigilant We need to remain vigilant throughout the audit cycle. Vigilant to the business atmosphere, the activities that are going around, the requirements of audit, the data & information that is presented. In short, everything. This vigilance is a fantastic tool to achieve audit objectives.
W Wind down Wind down by having regular de-brief sessions with the auditee.  Such sessions need to be at all levels of auditee management – operations to executive to the top. This gives an opportunity of understanding better the nuances of business, risks, controls and expectations of audit.
X Xenolith Internal auditors are like xenolith – a fragment of rock differing in origin, composition, structure etc., from the igneous rock enclosing it. We remain internal to the business but yet independent of it. This differential makes us deliver what we are required to do in the overall scheme of controls of an entity.
Y Yorker In cricket a yorker is a delivery by a bowler that bounces just beneath the bat or feet of a batsman. A yorker does not allow a batsman to play a shot freely. Like wise the audit findings need to be yorker length to be effective. The auditee, of course, gets to defend and dig the delivery out. A reasonable discussion later the auditor and auditee agree on the finding and the recommendations, if any.
Z Zeal Zeal is what will keep all us, internal auditors, going on. A zeal to excel; a zeal to learn, unlearn and relearn; a zeal to be relevant. That’s how internal audit will remain a fulcrum of business.

We could convert the above into a maturity model.  Give yourself 1 mark for each of the 26 traits. You score 26 you are the best!!!. For anything other than 26, design your own matrix. All it means is that there is room for improvement. Track yourself and have fun. We are jolly good folks at the end of the day.

The Blog solely reflects the personal views and opinions of the author(s).

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