Auditor or adviser? How practitioners are viewed in the organization depends largely on their business knowledge and relationships.

Author:Qatato, Jay J.
Position:Insights/In My Opinion - Viewpoint essay

"Hello, I'm from internal audit. I'm here to help." How many times have you heard this introduction, or even used it yourself? More importantly, to what extent do clients believe that you are, in fact, there to help? Do business managers see you as an auditor or as an adviser? Unfortunately, many internal audit practitioners may believe they're viewed as an adviser, even though they haven't taken steps necessary to function as one. Several areas in particular are often ignored by those who fail to serve their clients effectively in this capacity.

First, those who fall short as trusted advisers often neglect to cultivate relationships within the business. Without effective relationships, it can be difficult--if not impossible--to obtain any insight into the business's processes and challenges. There are numerous opportunities to build relationships, such as scheduling and rotating lunch invitations with key business unit leaders or volunteering to present at their staff meetings. Each person in the audit group has the opportunity, and responsibility, to foster connections--doing so creates a "net" joining internal audit to the business, rather than a link from just one individual. Relationship building is necessary to internal audit's ability to suggest potential solutions that are beneficial and cost effective, as it provides a gateway to understanding client needs.

Business knowledge is another area to which practitioners may devote inadequate attention. The importance of attending industry conferences and seminars, joining professional organizations, and participating in user forums associated with client business areas, for example, cannot be overstated. Are you reading the same...

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