Challenges faced by internal auditors

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Internal audit is a fascinating and dynamic profession, but it does not come without challenges. Some of the challenges are an appealing part of the job.

“One example is the challenge that comes with learning about a new area each time we perform a different engagement, which usually last eight to 12 weeks,” said internal auditor Julie Earls. “Our work takes us all over campus, and we jump from athletics to research to business operations to student services and more. It is difficult to learn enough about each area to audit it well, but it is usually a very enjoyable process. We rely heavily on campus partners, or clients, to help us understand their area. They are the subject matter experts, so we try to learn as much as possible from them in the short time we have with them.”

Being aware of emerging risks and trends in the profession, as well as learning about current data analysis and other audit techniques, are challenges.

Earls stated that the Internal Audit Department staff seeks to audit efficiently and effectively and provide objective assurance and add value to the University. They belong to the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of College and University Auditors, and through these professional associations they stay up-to-date on trends and collaborate with peers on how to audit better.

“Some of the less fun challenges include delivering news of an issue we have identified. We truly want the best for the University, as we work for UNC Charlotte, too. Sometimes when we share that we have found an issue that needs to be corrected, individuals take it personally,” said Earls.

The word “audit” can have a negative connotation, and sometimes people view internal auditors as the “bad guys.”

The Internal Audit Department is not out to “get anyone” or find fault, added Earls. “We strive to identify areas for improvement that can be changed to strengthen the University’s operations and performance. We want to partner with campus employees to help them do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”

The International Professional Practices Framework used by the Internal Audit Department requires auditors to be independent and objective when performing their work.

Auditors must maintain an unbiased mental attitude while at the same time working to build and/or strengthen relationships with individuals across campus. They want to build partnerships with everyone and let members of the campus community know that they are a resource. “Please remember the phrase, ‘Don’t shoot the messenger,’ and don’t forget that we are on your side,” Earls stated.