Why Internal Audit is an Attractive Opportunity
Internal audit is an incredibly popular career move for recently qualified accountants looking to move out of practice. The purpose of this article is to firstly, explain the role of internal audit and secondly, illustrate why so many young professionals are choosing to enter internal audit and the reasons why it’s such an attractive avenue.
What is Internal Audit
- Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value to and improve an organisation’s operations. Internal auditors are involved in reviewing governance processes, internal controls, business processes and risks.
- Typically, roles in internal audit are best suited to those who already have external audit experience although it is not a prerequisite. It is a great route for those that enjoyed their time in practice and want to use their new skills but want a fresh start in a new company.
How Does Internal Audit Differ to External Audit
- The functions of internal and external audit are complementary but their purposes are distinct.
- The external auditors express an opinion on whether financial statements are free from material misstatement and prepared in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework. This opinion is read by stakeholders within and outside the organisation.
- The activities of the internal auditors are determined by management but usually involve evaluating the company’s control landscape, risk management and governance processes.
- The external auditors are a third party unrelated to the company, unlike the internal auditors who are typically employees of the company.
- Internal audits occur throughout the year whilst external audits are annual.
Why Consider Internal Audit?
Reason 1 – Entry Point into a Company
- Internal audit presents an opportunity to showcase your skills and get a foot in the door of a company. It’s a fantastic entry point into an industry you have a passion for and you will gain a comprehensive understanding of how the business operates. Indeed, the knowledge you obtain in an internal audit role will undoubtedly help you irrespective of where you move to afterwards.
- As part of the role of internal audit is having a comprehensive understanding of the business’ functions, processes and controls, internal auditors gain exposure to the entire organisation and this is a key advantage if you later want to move internally. As you will be routinely speaking to those in key strategic positions within the company you will also develop a rapport with the heads of departments that you may later move into.
Reason 2 – International Experience/Opportunities to Travel
- Internal audit is also a great option for those that want to gain international experience. Internal auditors will have to visit each business process and thus, visit various offices which depending on the size of the company could mean travelling abroad. Having said that, since COVID-19 many companies and their staff have adapted to remote working so the travel demands have decreased accordingly. Previously, it would be typical that 40% of the year could be spent travelling whereas now, this estimate is closer to 25%.
Reason 3 – Job Security
- The internal audit function is resilient to automation. This isn’t an area that will be replaced by artificial intelligence any time soon. With that being said, you are likely to gain exposure to data analytics and new technologies as business environments change.
- All companies are subject to fraud risk. Global regulations such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act have put increased pressure on organisations to implement a fraud risk mitigation policy and encourage the use of an internal audit function.
Reason 4 –Growth and Variety
- As compliance requirements become more strenuous and extensive there will continue to be a huge demand for internal auditors.
- Those who find themselves bored with the monotony of routine tasks typically find the variety of work in internal audit as a welcomed challenge. You will be tasked with communicating with an assortment of managers and key executives across the organisation and advising them on critical issues.
- It is not uncommon for those in internal auditor to progress to positions such as finance director or financial controller.
- There is tremendous variety even between internal audit roles. Whilst large corporations and heavily regulated companies will, of course, be hiring, consider also more niche areas that you may have a passion for such as aircraft leasing or pharmaceuticals.
Reason 5 – Lucrative
- There is a tremendous demand for recently qualified accountants in internal audit at present. Thus, in order to attract the best talent companies have had to increase their compensation packages.
- A big four trained recently qualified accountant could expect a salary of between €55,000 – €60,000 in internal audit. If you progress to a head of internal audit role you can expect a salary of €120k +.
Reason 6 – Worldwide Profession
- Transparency and accountability have become a key focus of shareholders and the media following the global recession and thus, the demand for internal auditors extends far beyond Ireland.
- Increased regulatory pressure has been a common theme not just in Ireland but globally too. Companies in heavily regulated industries such as financial services require a sizeable internal audit function. Moreover, the skills you acquire working in internal audit in Ireland will be easily transferable to an internal audit role in the U.S.A, Australia or U.K. if you decide you like the role but want to travel abroad.
Reason 7 – Young Profession
- One of the reasons why graduate contracts in large professional service firms are so attractive is because you join the firm alongside a bunch of other recent university graduates who are beginning their professional careers. Indeed, it is often said that many people meet their best friends and even future partners during their training contract. A huge benefit of internal audit is that it is a relatively young profession with the average age typically around mid-to-late 30s. You will most likely be hired in a cohort with other recently qualified accountants.
The above are just some of the reasons why internal audit is such an enticing opportunity for recently qualified accountants. If you’d like to find out more about the industry and opportunities in the market, why not reach out to HireForce to discuss your options. At HireForce we pride ourselves in not simply finding the right candidate for a role but finding the right role for a candidate.