All businesses have objectives and, like any goals, they need to be regularly assessed to make sure they’re on track, involving the notification of discrepancies and recommendations for rectification. This is where internal auditing comes in.
Internal auditing is one type of accounting job. Internal auditors work for the same company that they review. Their main job is to review the company’s operations and its financial policies to determine if fraud or mismanagement is present. They are also tasked to compare financial records to those of creditors and banks for fiscal gains.
Internal auditors are extremely important to businesses. They make reports and tell the management what systems are working well and report where improvements are needed. To qualify for this job, one must have, as a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. In order to progress sooner, a master’s degree is advantageous.
Here’s how you can become an internal auditor in Europe:
- Educational background: Most positions require that you have a university degree in Accounting or a related field, such as Finance, Commerce, or Business. Many big companies may also require that you pursue a master’s degree or MBA, which is typically a requirement for promotion and will help you advance in the field sooner.
- Certification: Becoming certified will make you extremely attractive to potential employers. For internal auditors, the most basic certification is CIA or Certified Internal Auditor. Administered by the Institute of Internal Auditors, this is a four-part exam that covers internal controls, taxation, finance, accounting, general business topics, and technology. Other certifications that will make you stand out from other applicants are CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification, and Certified Information System Auditor (CISA).
Students may need to take a variety of courses as a preparation for the examinations. Specialised courses are offered at universities or online. The Institute of Internal Auditors has established criteria and requirements that must be met in order to become eligible for the program, such as the aforementioned Batchelor’s degree.
Candidates must provide a character reference and must have completed at least 24 months of internal auditing experience. In addition, they must agree to abide by the Code of Ethics. Lastly, they must maintain their knowledge and skills by completing 80 hours of CPE or Continuing Professional Education every two years.
To become a Certified Internal Auditor, you must be knowledgeable in the following core areas: risk and control, internal audit activity’s role in governance, business analysis and information technology, internal audit engagement, and business management skills.
- Relevant experience: Your salary will most likely be proportional to your experience; this provides professionals with a negotiation point. Employers are more inclined to hire you if you can demonstrate your experience and knowledge of internal auditing.
- Look for entry-level position: If you don’t have relevant experience just yet, you may apply at a public accounting firm offering entry-level position. It is easier to have experience in general accounting before you move into auditing.
Essential traits and characteristics
Educational background and certifications are often not enough to succeed in this field. In order to get ahead of the pack, it helps to have the following traits and characteristics:
Exceptional organisational skills - As an internal auditor, you require the art of multi-tasking. Often, you’ll be required to report to several different departments at a time and work on several auditing projects. You must know how to organise your responsibilities and meet deadlines without sacrificing the quality of your work.
Willingness to learn - You can never know enough when it comes to internal auditing. New and improved processes are perpetually being discovered. To always strive to improve your knowledge is to survive the competitive environment.
Be a problem-solver - As an internal auditor, it’s important that you’re passionate about understanding problems and solving them. This job will require precise thinking, accurate statistical analysis, and reporting, etc. In addition, you must have the ability to make sound judgment all the time as your decisions and opinions will have direct impact on the company that you’re working for.
People skills – People are often of the school of thought that numbers people are of the less-sociable variety, but you won’t get too far in this industry without people skills. This job will require you to effectively communicate your findings to top management and communicate with staff and personnel as you do data gathering. Your ability to build relationships, read people, and to adapt to any given situation can help you not only do your job better but also in climbing up the corporate ladder quickly.
So, while a Batchelor’s degree and professional certifications are prerequisites to qualifying as an internal auditor, the personal traits of organisation, willingness to learn, and people skills are vital to being a successful internal auditor in a valued profession with clear career progression.