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On the Frontlines: The Standards Offer Solutions to CAEs

Blogs Amiri Abdallah, CIA, CFE. CPA, PRINCE2 Jun 25, 2024

Are you a new CAE struggling to convince your board and management what it is your internal audit team requires to function well? Or maybe you are an old hand as CAE but still get a headache trying to explain to your board or management exactly what your team can or cannot do.

You could also be one of those auditors who are regularly challenged by your audit clients about why you undertake your audits the way you do.

I am sure that your response to them has always been that you are “following the International Professional Practices Framework, or IPPF.” I can imagine the looks you get, as most of your clients have already mentally switched off by the time you are done describing our mouthful of Standards.

With the new Global Internal Audit Standards coming into force in January of 2025, a lot of our pain points as internal auditors and as CAEs will be solved. Not only because the Global Internal Audit Standards name is very quick for everyone to identify with and understand, but also because the five domains in which the Standards are prescribed are very systematic and easy for everyone to understand.

Here is a quick snapshot on how each domain is going to make your life easier:

Domain 1: Purpose of Internal Auditing

This section clearly highlights the reason for the existence of an internal audit function. With this, you now have the firepower you need to get your charter amended to ensure that you are doing what the Standards require of you. This domain also becomes a great reference to your team on what they can and cannot do as advisors to management and the board.

Most importantly, the heading is so clear and the explanation so easy, that giving a copy to your resistant management or board should quickly yield positive results with its guidance about the expectations of the internal audit function.

Domain 2: Ethics and Professionalism

Ethics and professionalism are at the heart and core of our work as internal auditors. This domain clearly emphasizes the ethical and professional expectations of not only the internal audit function, but also of individual internal auditors. Adhering to this domain and ensuring that the right environment is in place to nurture ethics and professionalism among your team will go a long way toward building a trusted internal audit function.

Domain 3: Governing the Internal Audit Function

Have you ever experienced challenges in guiding your board on what they can and cannot do as they supervise or provide oversight to the internal audit function? Well, with this domain, your relationship with your board is bound to greatly improve since you now will be able to share with them a clear explanation on what the Standards expect them to do. Having your board and management conversant with this domain will help prevent that risk of boards quietly entering into the operational domain instead of remaining strategic.

Domain 4: Managing the Internal Audit Function

Both new and experienced CAEs now have a clear template to guide them to ensure they are steering their ships in the right direction and toward the right goals. With this domain, we expect CAEs to build stronger structures and come up with better strategies for ensuring their functions deliver value to the organization.

Domain 5: Performing Internal Audit Services

This domain provides a roadmap for how internal auditors should undertake all their internal audit engagements. Now that we have this very clear domain, the onus is going to be on all internal auditors to ensure that the planning, performing, communicating, monitoring, and quality assurance for each engagement fully meets the requirements of the Standards. Internal audit functions also need to review and amend their manuals to ensure alignment with the requirements in this domain.

Despite the changes, one can see that there is no need for internal auditors to feel overwhelmed with the new Standards. On the contrary, the launch of these new standards breathes new life into our profession. However, for us to fully reap the benefits that come with this new change, we need to ensure that we read the Standards, internalize them, and educate our key stakeholders about them.

I look forward to hearing great war stories from the trenches as you implement the new Standards in your organizations. Cheers to more efficient and effective internal audit functions and better equipped internal auditors, thanks to the Global Internal Audit Standards!

Amiri Abdallah, CIA, CFE. CPA, PRINCE2

Amiri Abdallah is the vice chair of the United Nations International Organization for Migration Audit Oversight and Advisory Committee and the co-global lead for the Advisory Service Line of Diamond Consulting Group, and is based in Kampala, Uganda.