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Standards: Towards conformance

Blog by Liz Sandwith, chief professional practice advisor | 1 September 2016

My email box this morning was bulging with announcements from IIA Global. One that I was particularly interested in and thought might be of interest to you was the new CBOK (Common Body of Knowledge) report entitled Looking to the Future for Internal Audit Standards

OK, so I know you are probably thinking 'Standards – a bit dull', but Standards are really important for us as a professional body. They differentiate us, members of the Chartered IIA, from those internal auditors who are not members.

Usage and conformance among practitioners

The CBOK report provides an overview of results from the 2015 Global Internal Audit Practitioner Survey and examines the usage of and conformance to the Standards by practitioners around the world.

There were 14,518 responses from 166 countries in 23 languages. A quarter of respondents were of head of internal audit (HIA) level. Isn’t it great to think we are part of a professional body that has a presence in more than 166 countries across the globe?

The Standards represent minimum expected requirements that normally should be found in all internal audit functions. They provide a foundation for performing efficiently and effectively, and are intended for use wherever internal auditing is practiced.

Yet despite the fact that conformance to the Standards is mandatory for all members of IIA Global and for all Certified Internal Auditors (CIAs), the survey found significant levels of non-conformance. Almost half of surveyed HIAs report that they do not use all the Standards, and fewer still say that they are in conformance with the Standards. 

An underlying objective of the Standards is to ensure that internal audit is effective, of high value, and of high and consistent quality. Non-conformance undermines this objective, and significant levels of non-conformance are detrimental to the image and reputation of the internal audit profession. Fortunately, the CBOK survey also found that significant progress is being made toward more consistent conformance.

Key findings

  1. While use of the Standards is increasing, almost half of HIAs still report that they do not use all of the Standards.
  2. Auditors holding internal audit-related professional certifications use the Standards more often than auditors without such certifications.
  3. Members of IIA Global use the Standards more often than non-members.
  4. Standards use is more likely in highly regulated industries than in less-regulated industries, and more likely in publicly traded organisations than in privately owned organisations.
  5. Use of all of the Standards is higher in the regions of North America, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa than in other parts of the world.
  6. More work may be needed in learning to apply the Standards and other elements of the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) effectively. Almost a quarter of internal auditors evaluate themselves as being below the competent level in applying the IPPF to their work.

Measure your conformance to the Standards

As you may be aware the Chartered IIA offers an external quality assessment programme to internal audit functions which is an independent assessment of conformance to the Standards. Based on the results of the 2015/16 EQAs completed in the UK and Ireland the results showed that:

  • 89% of organisations generally conformed to the standards
  • 96% of organisations generally or partially conformed to that Standards 
  • 4% of organisations did not conform

Impressive results for the UK and Ireland. These results do not include those HIAs who undertake their own internal assessment using the EQA checklist (free to members). The timing couldn’t be more appropriate to undertake a self-assessment using the checklist in preparation for the new Standards and to plan the work required to conform to them. 

Revised Standards coming soon

The Standards have been revised and they will be issued in October 2016 with a requirement to conform by 1 January 2017. Please watch this space for further news about the revised Standards and for some 'top tips' on how to conform.

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Content reviewed: 1 February 2023