By John Seeram
May is International Internal Audit Awareness Month, and 2016 marks 75 years of existence of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) as a global voice for internal auditing. Today the IIA is serving approximately 180,000 members in 190 countries.
Guyana became a Chapter Member of the Latin America and Caribbean region of the IIA in April 2000 with yours truly being the first President. Since then this chapter has had a second past President in Deodat Indar and the third and current president is Jaigopaul Ram.
As a founder member and past president, I admire a profession that constantly strives to evolve, to expand its mandate, to address the needs of its stakeholders, and to ensure the well-being of an organisation in both the private and public sectors. This chapter had started with 15 members, now at the end of March 2016 its membership had grown to 56 members. Although there is a slow growth in membership, after 16 years, it still continues to play a meaningful role.
The Guyana Chapter is mandated by the IIA Global to promote and develop the internal audit profession. To meet the demands of the profession is the International Professional Practices Framework which consists of:
– International Standards
– Code of Ethics
– Definition of Internal Audit
– Position Papers
– Practice Advisories
– Practice Guides
All internal auditors are required to have a working knowledge of this framework. And this is made known to them through seminars and workshops by this chapter, of which there are 3 to 4 in a fiscal year. Also, sensitive topics such as risk management, controls, fraud detection and prevention, cybersecurity, forensic audits, audit report writing, only to mention a few, are done by experienced and qualified presenters. In addition to seminars, it has been involved in doing on-the-job training in the public sector. The response has been heartening, hence this form of training is now a priority area since internal auditors are in dire need of continuous training.
It is also responsible for promoting and monitoring the Institute’s certification examinations. The major exam is the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), which eight members of this chapter have successfully obtained. Members are also afforded the privilege of attending overseas conferences, seminars and workshops in order to enhance their learning process.
Chapter’s hurdles to cross
After 16 years of this chapter’s existence, the role of the internal auditor has not been fully recognised despite the chapter promoting its mandate from the IIA Global.
Evidence of this, and this not a full list is:
– That management in both the public and private sectors is yet to accept the important role the internal auditor is in an organisation.
– The internal audit profession is not fully receiving the recognition it deserves from it stakeholders.
– The auditing emphasis is yet to fully focus on governance, controls and risk management. Further, preference is still being given to appoint auditors with an accounting background, however such a unit needs to be also staffed with non-accountants in order to add value and improve an organisation’s operations.
– There is still the view that the internal auditor and the external auditor is one and the same.
– The internal auditor is not being allowed to perform and act independently at all times. As an example, the reporting function is to a senior line staff.
– More funds should to be provided in the training budget for internal auditors in both sectors since the audit scope has been constantly expanding.
The way forward
The Guyana Chapter is fully aware of the areas it needs to focus. It is the hope that the internal audit profession will receive the recognition it deserves from its stakeholders, and that the importance of the profession is understood and embraced by all. Today’s internal auditors must be seen as partners, instead of watchdogs, assisting management to increase its organisation’s effectiveness as promoted by IIA Global.
In 2016, IIA Guyana will be intensify its promotion of the profession and the global body. It has to encourage all internal auditors to follow the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF). This IPPF is reviewed and updated every year which is excellent. One of the major challenges being faced is that internal audit is still not well-understood in many quarters, and one way to overcome this is for auditors to be guided by using the IPPF.
We in Guyana have to keep abreast with the developments of this profession and to focus on not only on risk-based auditing, but also on value-based auditing and performance improvement. Internal auditors need to keep advancing this profession within their respective organizations, so that they can be viewed as not only relevant, but also as an indispensable asset.
I close by stating that the IIA Guyana is committed to continue moving this profession forward. Congratulations to IIA Global for 75 years of sharing knowledge and raising the level of the auditing profession globally.
John Seeram is a Board Member of the Guyana Chapter of the International Institute of Auditors