Column inches

I’ve often felt that not enough column inches in our national press are devoted to internal audit!

But a couple of weeks ago you might have seen an exchange that took place via the Financial Times, which emphasised that the best defence against bad behaviour by companies is having rigorous internal controls. And the authors were explicit in hailing the value of a strong internal audit function.

This began with an article by Ewan Brown (Loosen the straitjacket of a compulsory independent audit) suggesting that compulsory external audit should be scrapped.

The value of external audit notwithstanding, what was interesting to us about this article and the subsequent letters (our own, Adrian Stone’s and John Stewart’s) was that all these items showed a real understanding of the role of internal audit and a belief in the value it adds to an organisation.

For example, John Stewart said: “It is rare that an internal audit does not provide both meaningful suggestions to improve governance and improvements in efficiency. While the external audit has declined in usefulness, the internal auditors’ function, empowered by the importance of their role and freedom from subservience to their paymasters, has become a valuable component of businesses alongside sales, innovation, production and human resources.”

This is illustrative of the growing stature of internal audit and shows that the more we engage with stakeholders, the more our field is recognised for the contribution that it makes.

This article was first published in May 2017.