5 Reasons Internal Audit is a Smart Career Choice for 2021
Although the pandemic has been dominating news and social media outlets all year, we are left facing its ongoing consequences now, and will continue to in the future. Entering the fourth quarter of 2020, we have faced unprecedented changes, such as offices closing, limited work hours and unexpected lay-offs. This crisis has disrupted the economy, and left people wondering who and what else will be impacted by the pandemic.
At a time of extreme uncertainty, we can’t ignore our current global situation and must examine the lasting impact the pandemic has had and will have on the economy and job security accordingly.
Despite the economic impacts of the pandemic, there is some optimism for those joining the job market and hoping to mitigate the financial strain the pandemic may cause. Whether you’re currently looking to switch fields, or are fresh out of university, you might be wondering: What would be the best job to pursue during the pandemic?
When considering which career path will provide you with this type of security going forward, internal audit is a safe and smart choice and here’s why.
1. The profession is resilient—it’s not going anywhere
Qualified internal auditors are almost always sought after. The demand for internal auditors is on the rise, as compliance requirements demand that most large companies maintain an internal audit function.
Internal audit departments are also constantly upgrading their team to adjust for technological growth and competition. Companies are offering more training now since new audit technologies are being embraced by internal audit. But there are many risks companies face and must address as we transition into our new normal. Internal auditors are needed to assess risks, such as cybersecurity, fraud and the corporate reputations.
Google Trends, which provides data on the popularity of search terms over time, supports the idea that internal auditors are consistently sought after. With the exception of seasonal dips in interest, “internal auditor” demonstrates sustained relevance as a search term globally over the last five years. This means that whether people are searching for information about internal audit professionals, firms, solutions, or careers, it’s always an area of considerable interest, and that should ring a bell for those interested in long-term career security.
2. Salaries are good
Whether you’re just graduating or looking to branch into a new profession, financial security is probably on your mind.
Internal audit is a sustainable, and lucrative career path. The average entry-level salaries in the industry range from being good to great. As an internal auditor with up to one year experience you could be making anywhere from $55,849 – $103,970 USD or an average salary of $42,000-86,000 CAD.
Variations such as location and years of experience have an impact on an internal auditors salary.
3. There’s a skills gap and tech-savvy youth are primed to shine
Now more than ever are we seeing the expedited growth and incorporation of technology in the global workforce. As the workforce changes, with it, smart companies are searching for tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Zers who are fluent with technology, digital platforms and processes.
The impacts of technology on these types of organizations require the introduction of new methods to have and keep a competitive advantage in the global market. As internal audit begins to shift to meet the standards of our society, what companies are looking for in candidates is beginning to shift in that direction as well.
In Deloitte’s Internal Audit 3.0: The Future of Internal Audit is Now, authors state the key characteristics of internal auditors are to be able to assure, advise and anticipate.
What does this have to do with the skillset smart companies are looking for? Let’s break it down.
These companies are actively searching for “purple people” who have both business and technological skills. The future of audit is linked to technology, so a key component of the position is to be able to identify technological risks using robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). For a purple person, communication is an essential aspect of being an internal auditor, especially when voicing potential risks. These organizations seek individuals who are confident, innovative, and able to embrace data analytics and data mining. These candidates need to be able to approach and evaluate real-time risk. In the age of digitization and technology, what is being said about the company online and through networking platforms is critical to the company’s success. Being able to examine these analytics is similarly crucial.
Companies are on the lookout for someone who is familiar with the possibilities and constraints associated with new technologies. In a survey of internal audit professionals we conducted for our report, Towards a Data-Driven Future, respondents indicated their top two challenges were moving from traditional, manual processes to the data driven audit and adopting new audit technologies.
4. It’s very well-suited to remote work
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, organizations have come up with ways for internal auditors to adjust to the challenges presented by the pandemic in a sustainable way. As companies begin to close their headquarters and central offices to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, the swift adoption of a work-from-home model among internal audit firms and finance in general is a trend that’s likely here to stay.
The internal audit considerations in the response to COVID-19 report by Deloitte, suggests procedures for internal audits to consider when working from remote locations, with the following specific guidance:
- Internal audit should consider the volume of electronic documentation available and prepare requests for evidence in advance.
- Acknowledge key stakeholders and consider their flex-schedule during this time.
- Conduct remote progress updates and make time to communicate findings.
- Familiarize yourself with technology available to assist with remote working, creating an efficient means to collaborate with your team.
- Use communication channels, video conferencing and record/share workshops.
- Use an Agile approach to reporting.
Due to the abundance of information available online and as remote working has become part of the new norm, internal auditors have been able to transition into remote working seamlessly, and can continue to do so. Going forward, companies are likely going to have to adopt an Agile approach and incorporate digitization into business processes to accommodate remote work.
5. Fraud fears will keep internal auditors and CFEs busy and in high demand
According to a recent ACFE report, COVID-19 has impacted the level of fraud reported, including the staggering fact that “92% of respondents expect an increase in fraud over the next 12 months.” As the overall level is expected to continue to increase, and as cybersecurity becomes the most high risk, followed by unemployment and payment fraud, the need for internal auditors has become that much more significant.
Not only are internal auditors needed to assess these risks, but due to this expected surge, audit departments are likely to increase spending on anti-fraud technology, and budgets for fraud relation consultations and training. Going forward, as staffing grows, talent recruiters will focus candidates with a technological skillset.
Get ready for your career in internal audit by brushing up on these critical skills.
Priya Gill is a Technical Writer at CaseWare International Inc.