Difficulties finding job candidates with the right mix of skills among the top challenges for internal audit

One of the top challenges facing internal audit departments today is finding the right people with the right set of skills. Internal audit executives say that getting good job candidates is difficult and finding people with the complete set of talents for the modern internal audit department is even harder.

During the SuperStrategies 2016 conference, being held in Las Vegas this week, the talent gap was a common theme of several sessions and talks. Internal audit leaders say that they need to be more strategic in their hiring practices to get the right mix of individuals.

"We all have a challenge in our organizations to meet an expanding internal audit mandate and getting the right people on our team is a big part of that," said Robert King, chief audit executive of FedEx, during an opening keynote address at the conference. "And then one you have them, how do we keep them?"

According to a recent study by Deloitte, the talent gap in internal audit is bad and getting worse. Just 13 percent of chief audit executives say they are satisfied with the skills their audit teams possess to meet the needs of the department. The rest say they are either understaffed or that the personnel they have do not have the proper skills to address the workload and obligations internal audit is facing.

King says it's important for internal audit departments to conduct a gap analysis to find what skills are missing from the department's capabilities. "Step back and create a workforce strategy," he said. "That starts with a skills assessment. What skills do we have in our organization and what skills do we need?"

He also suggested that internal audit departments need to do a better job at developing the people they already have on their staff, including providing training opportunities and mentoring. King says companies need to do more to define what those skills are. "We have not done a good enough job at communicating the skills we are looking for them to develop."

During the conference, several speakers noted increasing salaries for internal audit professionals and a dearth of good candidates when job openings are posted.

Non-Traditional Auditors

One of the potential solutions to the talent gap problem may be to look beyond traditional avenues for recruiting internal auditors, such as those with accounting and financial analysis backgrounds. During a session at the conference, Thomas Sanglier, director of internal audit at Raytheon, suggested that internal audit departments should recruit more non-traditional auditors with diverse backgrounds, including those with technology, operations, and other skill sets. He says the benefits are twofold: it will increase the pool of talent that internal audit can draw from, while also benefiting the department with more diversity of thought.