Expanding Advisory Services in Your Internal Audit
Advisory services performed by internal audit are widely varied and dependent on the leadership of any given audit shop. The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation issued a publication on Assurance and Consulting services discussing the industry’s perplexing stance on advisory services, including topics such as blended engagements; balancing assurance and consulting; limits on the extent consulting in internal audit function should undertake; and the risk and reward of providing consulting services. This paper raised a lot of interesting queries in my mind, and I felt it would be beneficial to open the door on this topic and demonstrate how our audit shop has embraced and benefited from the consulting side of internal audit services.
I believe offering advisory / consulting services can add value and strength to the profession. I have planned, executed and witnessed these engagements make a marked difference in the auditee’s operations. I also understand the trepidation around overstepping our bounds when it comes to our objectivity and independence. I attended the Halifax conference and heard discussions around consulting services and how other practitioners felt they were appropriate or inappropriate and I think there is a lot more discussion to be had.
Most modern internal audit shops provide some level of advisory services to their clients, whether they are formal or informal pieces of work. But are we truly harnessing the power of consulting activities and the positive impact they can have on our clients’ ability to effectively and efficiently manage their operations? Not to mention the benefits they can provide in developing a trusted relationship with management / audit committee.
Internal audit need not be looking backward in perpetuity to produce reports on what was or has been. Instead, facing forward and assisting with the <em>now</em> may be far more influential in shaping the future than correcting the faults of the past.
Oftentimes, our work is influenced by preconceived, even prehistoric notions of what the function of internal audit is. However, as practitioners, we have the power to break the mold and find ways to empower our client using alternate methodologies that do not employ tick marks and testing sheets. Yes, even auditors can be innovative.