After a few years of working in an organization’s finance department, you decided to transition into a financial auditor career path. What skills and competencies do you need to develop in order to succeed in an internal audit career?
What does an internal auditor do?
In a nutshell, financial auditors examine and analyze a company’s accounting data, financial records, and business operational processes. They are tasked to assess and evaluate an organization’s operations with the objective of identifying opportunities for improvement, reducing waste and production errors, and if needed, reporting fraudulent activities.
In public companies, internal auditors are under the direction of the audit committee of the board of directors. This lends the audit committee full independence from the company’s management team, allowing them to report on operational issues as necessary.
What an Internal Auditor Career Path Looks Like
In general, financial auditors begin their career in internal audit through a junior position immediately after earning a degree and a professional certification or license. Some of the common jump-off points for an internal audit career include positions in finance, accounting, or information technology.
As for external auditors in public practice, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is required for you to obtain a license as a Certified Public Accountant, which is a general requirement for aspiring external auditors.
Core Skills and Competencies for Today’s Auditor
In an extensive survey with chief audit executives, internal audit staff, and managers, the Institute for Internal Auditors Research Foundation identified the following knowledge areas and competencies as crucial in the execution of audit work:
- Communication skills, including oral communication, report writing, and presentation skills
- Problem-solving skills (i.e., conceptual and analytical thinking)
- Ability to promote the value of internal audit among key employees within the organization
- Keeping abreast with regulatory changes and industry standards
- Knowledge in auditing, internal audit standards, fraud awareness, and professional ethical standards.
- Knowledge in enterprise risk management (i.e., risk analysis and control assessment)