This is just a short post but one prompted by some thinking I have been doing about what is internal audit? In one sense it is jack of all trades and master of none. It is not rocket science, it is that uncommon thing, common sense. So is there anything in particular that makes it have a claim to a specialism or a profession?

I think so. It is a way of thinking. It is a discipline. A bit like academic research. The topic can be anything, but the way it is conceived, operated, undertaken and reported, is what makes it ‘research’. So I think for internal audit. It is a combination of systematised process, yet cultural and business thinking, underpinned by an holistic understanding of governance, risk management, ethics, fraud awareness and process that can make a difference to organisations. It has its own way of reporting and delivering its messages. I’ve not seen this method used in any other flavour of audit, particularly financial statements audit or worse, quality assurance (conformance) auditing. It is a way of thinking and working that not all have the ability to master.

Perhaps internal audit has some elements of the Jedi in it. It has a sense of being all encompassing, all pervasive and underpinned by a moral, ethical and professional code, a ‘force’. Yes the weak minded can be overcome by audit and its methods. It can have the power to create change, but ultimately draws its power from the organisation’s governance structures that it audits.

I am not yet at the point where I will disclose my census-recorded religion as ‘internal audit’, but I do think a real internal auditor can recognise another and engage with them as peers, just as any other profession does. What do you think?

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