Communication Is Key To Internal Auditing

Internal audit is not a career that many people immediately think of, but it offers the opportunity to learn a lot about an organisation through reviewing its processes and making suggestions for improvement. Here, Ian Gilbert and Nicola Rimmer, who are both Directors in Barclays Internal Audit, discuss why this career is an integral part of ensuring an organisation functions efficiently and why military officers already have the relevant, transferable skills.

What is internal auditing?

At its simplest, internal auditing involves identifying the risks that could keep an organisation from achieving its goals, making sure the organisation’s leaders know about these risks, and proactively recommending improvements to help reduce them.

Internal audit must also have an independent reporting line to the highest governing body ensuring them authority to access all areas of the organisation and know they’ll be supported if and when their views differ from management’s.

What transferable skills can you bring?

64% of you think communication is the most valuable skill that former officers have developed to ensure a successful career as an internal auditor. This is indeed key as you will need to convey transparently and clearly why a particular system needs to be re-evaluated, even though your decision may not be popular.

Emotional intelligence is essential in ensuring this can be achieved. You’ll need to be able to manage a variety of different relationships, often quite complex or strained hierarchies, as well as helping to change perspectives on processes that may no longer be working efficiently. The ability to lead an organisation through these changes is also imperative, as is the foresight to put plans and contingencies in place.

Key skills/attributes

  • Flexibility
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Ability to facilitate
  • Relationship management
  • Customer focus
  • Team focus
  • Risk aware
  • Change management skills
  • Organisationally aware

What challenges are facing internal auditing?

Nicola Rimmer says: “More intense security is one of the biggest challenges facing internal auditing as organisations continue to exist within a volatile economic climate – both globally and locally.”

Another concern is the use of social media, which means more communication is being shared about organisations at a rapid speed – companies can no longer shy away from the customer, meaning more focus on the behaviour and culture of management and boards is needed.

Internal auditors need to ensure the culture of the organisation is under the spotlight for all the right reasons and embodies best practice and transparency. Ensuring the finer details are taken into account is imperative.

How much experience do you need with IT?

Ian Gilbert says: “It depends on your role. For Business Auditor roles you need a basic IT understanding – the use of Windows, Microsoft Office applications and general computer familiarity is sufficient to execute an audit of a business process.

However, for IT Auditor roles there is a need for more detailed and in depth understanding of technology.” He adds: “Training will be provided where specific understanding is required.”

How many levels of managers/directors are there in internal audit?

There are four levels within Internal Audit – Assistant Vice President up to Managing Director. The structure is fairly pyramidal.

What are the practical ways to enter the profession?

  • Get qualified
  • IIA or accountancy qualifications
  • Consultancy firms
  • Networking
  • Attending industry events
  • Developing relationships with recruiters

At Barclays, relevant professional qualifications and training are supported with both financial support and study leave, within the constraints of its learning policy, business need and budget.