Internal Auditing in the Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific is currently one of the most exciting regions in which to work. The thriving business market and the onslaught of technology in the key APAC countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia create a highly dynamic and overflowing pot of employment opportunities in the region. According to reports, the job outlook in the Asia Pacific region is quite reasonable despite the economic crisis that has hit several parts of the world and can still be felt in others. Although the APAC region was also affected, its business market remained healthy and strong.
What is Internal Audit?
Internal audit is an independent function in an organisation. Its role is to provide objective advice and, when necessary, assurance to management by assessing, analysing, and evaluating the operations of the business. It can have various thrusts, such as financial, operational, legal, or regulatory.
In recent years, auditing has become an important part of companies as ensuring the proper operations of a company, in any aspect, is key to its long-term survival and growth, especially given the static situation of the economy.
An internal auditor is different from an external auditor in that the internal auditor is directly employed by the company he or she works for, as opposed to being employed by an auditing firm that transacts with the company. Thus, the internal auditor has to be knowledgeable about all key aspects of the company they work for, not just the audit industry.
Depending on the size of the company, an internal auditor may work alone or in a team. The usual career path involves many different positions at varying levels:
- Junior internal auditor
- Internal auditor
- Internal audit supervisor
Duties and Responsibilities of an Internal Auditor
The usual duties and responsibilities of an internal auditor include:
- Perform internal audits and conduct investigations
- Perform internal control risk assessments
- Develop work programs for auditing processes
- Perform audit testing
- Perform efficiency and effectiveness reviews
- Report to senior management
- Recommend opportunities to improve efficiency in internal processes
Skills and Abilities
When looking for an internal audit job in the Asia Pacific region, some skills and abilities will help give you an edge over other jobseekers. It pays to develop these skills and abilities as the job market in the said region is quite competitive these days.
- Strong analytical skills
- Organisational skills
- Ability to build relationships with others
- Communication skills and the ability to communicate with all levels of employees
- Ability to meet deadlines
Having the right mix of skills and personality traits is one of the major factors that can set you apart from other applicants. In a lineup of applicants with similar educational attainments, the one with the skills and traits that best match the job will gain preference.
Most companies looking for internal auditors at the entry level to mid level will require any bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, finance, or any finance-related course. If you are applying for a senior level position, a 3-year degree plus an honours degree will be necessary. If you are applying for an executive position, a masters degree may be required.
Most employers in key APAC countries and cities will also require at least 2 years of work experience, especially for overseas applicants. This experience should be related to the field. Those with internal audit experience in an industry similar to the company they are applying to will have an advantage.
Aside from educational requirements, many companies also look at your certifications, if any. This will give you an edge over competitors as well as more job opportunities, as many companies refuse to hire applicants without certifications. The best certification to have is a CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, although the required certifications may differ per country and per company.
Job Outlook in the Asia Pacific Region
Reports say that the Asia Pacific region, as if not lively enough, is expected to further expand. Growth has recently accelerated following the effects of the financial crisis, and reports on the prospects of 2013 jobs in the region state that the coming years will see the APAC economy stabilize.
China is currently the largest economy, but other APAC countries offer excellent and rewarding job opportunities as well. Unemployment rates are mostly falling, therefore, in most countries in the region, including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
Australia’s job market is said to be the most buoyant of all as of now. In less than a year, it has created more than 200,000 jobs and has pushed its unemployment rate down to a mere 5.3%. In fact, the country is experiencing a skills shortage, which means there is a possibility for the unemployment rate to reduce further.
An increase in job opportunities has also been observed in Taiwan, and the country is optimistic that its unemployment rate will also move below 5% soon.
In Japan, there are sufficient job openings on the market but has a shrinking labor force, making it one of the best places where IT auditors can get jobs.
New Zealand is also recovering from the recession quite well, and jobs are continuously on the rise, albeit the increase in job opportunities is a little slow.
On the other hand, South Korea is not experiencing the same surge in employment opportunities as the country’s own unemployment rate is still high.
These may help you decide which APAC countries are most promising for internal audit professionals like you.