Brush Up on These Skills to Shine as an Internal Auditor in 2020

Given that many auditors will rightly be focused on the value they bring to their firms and customers in these uncertain economic times, it helps to be able to define which internal audit skills will be of the most value in an auditing career in 2020 and beyond as the global economy moves toward recovery.


Skills Matter


The good news for auditors is that, despite increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) within the auditing profession to perform decision-based tasks that would previously have been left to humans, with the computers performing many of the repetitive and data-entry tasks it will leave the human auditors more time to focus on the application of their insight and creative problem solving skills, which can’t be replicated by algorithms.


In the face of a global crisis, like the one we are currently enduring, organizations of all sizes care even more about their dollars and how they are spent. They’re going to be relying on skilled human auditors to help them navigate the difficult waters ahead.


Given these times of economic uncertainty, it’s a great time to take stock of our skillsets and see what needs polishing or updating so we can truly shine in our profession.


While there are any number of essential qualities that make up a high-performing auditor, here are three skills we think are critical to showing your true value in 2020 and beyond.


1. Ease and Adaptability with Technology


These days, luddites need not apply for auditing jobs. Comfort with data gathering and processing technology is the new price of admission to the auditing profession. The job increasingly relies on technology and to shine in the new economy—which is already dominated by digital natives—you have to be at ease with technology and ready to shift and adapt as new technology is incorporated into your workflow. You have to understand how data is collected, stored, and used by clients and their technology in order to effectively parse the data. 


The good news here is that if your experience is in need of a refresher, there have never been more resources and support (both online and through your own HR department) to bring yourself up to speed.


2. Professional Skepticism


Also called ‘healthy skepticism,’ it’s the idea that properly skeptical thinking leads the best auditors to recognize and overcome biases in making judgments that relate to their work. Auditors with this kind of critical approach to their role avoid shortcuts and are willing to do the hard work to reassess findings if something just isn’t adding up, and question clients in an objective, constructive way.


With the rise of AI and other forms of automation in auditing, the demand for this kind of skeptical, higher-level analysis and judgment on the part of auditors will only grow.


3. Effective Communication


Highly valued yet surprisingly rare, strong, effective communication remains a core sought-after skill in the accounting profession. What do such skills look like? Primarily, the ability to clearly convey thoughts, ideas and suggestions during meetings, presentations, interviews, and negotiations with clients and executives. Those clients recently ranked communication skills (66%) as virtually as important as technology skills (67%), so clearly they are in demand for the future.


But don’t think that it’s all about verbal communication. The importance of nonverbal communication, teamwork, and presentation skills all play a role, and one survey found that better presentation skills led to greater success at work.



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