Four actions for CAEs
1. Accelerate technology deployment
Most CAEs have plans to use technology better – now those plans must be accelerated so that routine work can be automated, and the IA function can focus on moving into strategic analysis and helping the board leverage data to make better risk-based decisions.
2. Focus on the effectiveness of risk and trust:
CAEs should be integral to business recovery in a post-COVID-19 world. Risk and trust are core to the recovery, so CAEs should help understand, assess and monitor the effectiveness of response to all risks – from the more traditional downside risk considerations, to upside (risks to take to get ahead, and highlighting the right indicators to make decisions) and outside risk (on which there is now renewed focus).
3. Begin the transformation of the function
CAEs need to develop their team’s abilities to be innovative and dynamic and to think out of the box. These are typically not technical audit skills, but rather knowing where the business is going is critical to the function’s future role. Some organizations are recruiting chief insight advisors to lead IA. With no internal audit experience, they are being tasked with breaking complacency and building a new IA function unconstrained by old ways of thinking. CAEs need to be aware that bold leaders who can challenge the status quo to relentlessly drive improvement will distinguish themselves and the IA function, while providing the confidence that management and the board need to take calculated risks and identify opportunities for growth.
4. Recruit and develop talent to support this transformation:
CAEs must reflect on the inherent uncertainty of the new normal by embodying a growth mindset to drive innovative progress in new directions. Even before the pandemic, IA needed more people with analytical skills, and now CAEs should focus efforts on recruiting more digital skills too. Internal audit leaders should also encourage their teams to take on new challenges, be curious, incorporate feedback to adopt more effective problem-solving strategies, and help build both their business acuity and emotional intelligence to help advance the traditional skillsets of the function.