We are the one percent. We are the one percent of the organisation, in many cases less than one percent. Yet when we talk crises, problems, governance we are far more. For the lines of defence model we are 33 percent. For governance we are more; for external auditors check one document to a level of materiality. We check the rest, apparently to a ‘reasonable’ level.
Yet we as a profession are not yet having a sensible dialogue to link the one percent of resources to the excessive demands and expectations on us. These expectations are collectively, on each service, on each head of audit and on each individual auditor, excessive.
As a CAE I feel it acutely. The pressure to deliver consultancy, to keep diverse demands of the audit committee, CEO and line management satisfied. For those of you who also have counter fraud I feel this more. For every fraud feels like a crisis and a problem. All fraud matters appear to need salving immediately. Yet we are the one percent.
I’ve been thinking about what needs to change. I think we, more specifically our mindsets, need to. We need to stop apologising for not being management for we are different. We need to stop apologising for being generalists, for that is what senior management is. We need to stop apologising for saying difficult and unsayable things, for that is our core role. Most of all we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and having confidence. Internal audit is a good thing per se.
We deserve more than 1 percent. More than one percent of organisational resources. More than one percent of organisational respect. More than one percent of press and public coverage.
For if all organisations had excellent internal audit to prevent problems rather than expensive consultancy to fix problems the world would be a better place. We should demand more. Demand more pay, more airtime, more people and resources.
I have been debating with many in our profession who are wedded to the three lines paradigm where internal audit is a small, limited, so-called strategic function; a function smaller than the CEO’s press office or planning office. We need to be bigger and do more.
The quid pro quo for this investment has to be for us to be better. No longer failed finance or business people, no more transitory guests on the way to promotion elsewhere in the business. We need the same talent that banking, consultancy or other much less worthy jobs attract. We need at least to have as much thinking and intellectual firepower as our business colleagues in the management team.
That means the professional firms’ model of sending in trainee kids, propped up with remote reviews needs to change. It means our reporting needs to be consultancy standard or better. It means our thinking has to be at least three dimensional, if not multi faceted. It means our childishly simple colour coded reports need to be more honest and more complex. We need to leave the solely compliance world behind and integrate compliance work within analysis and thinking.
In short we need, as a profession, to remove the walls we falsely put around us and grow into the unlimited space within which our management colleagues take risk.
Do you think the one percent is up to it in your organisation?