Categories
Auditing

Survey says: IA feeling the squeeze

A survey conducted at the recent Institute of Internal Auditors annual conference by Protiviti has revealed that ⅔ of IA professionals believe their department is under-resourced and therefore unable to adequately carry out their duties.

Protiviti’s take is that due to increased expectations of the assurance Internal Audit can provide on an ever-widening spectrum of enterprise risks, auditors feel under-resourced. Sukhdev Bal, Director of Protiviti says:

This survey is a clear indication that internal auditors themselves believe that prior to the recession, they were not fit for purpose in terms of focus, skills and capabilities. Audit committees, Internal Audit leaders and management need to work more closely and collectively to agree the role of audit, objectives, criteria for audit and the overall approach of the internal audit function required to meet current and future evolving needs. Importantly, having agreed these, they need to ensure that the function is staffed with the right skills, capabilities and experience to meet these objectives.

There is evidence that spending on governance, risk and compliance didn’t decrease in 2009 compared to 2008, so I think Protiviti is correct with its assessment. IA is being asked to expand their risk coverage beyond traditional areas of expertise. It’s only natural to feel a little overwhelmed by the expectations. The key to adapting in my opinion (and experience) will be support for training in non-traditional areas.

The survey is available on Protiviti’s website (if you give them some personal information first).

Categories
Profession

Staff retention at midsize firms charts new waters

An article in WebCPA talks about the steps midsize firms in particular are taking to ensure their young people stay put:

More midsized firms are starting to address this issue by paying attention to what younger people need to stay engaged. Some are including younger staff members in more significant firm decisions through advisory boards; others are pairing younger staff with older partners in mentoring relationships; and some have even postponed accepting large proposals until there is an assurance that a particular department can handle the increase in hours and staff demands.

Involvement

Giving younger staff a chance to be heard on firm decisions is a great idea, and one that is taking hold in my office of late. I have recently been involved in the formation of an IT Committee composed of young staff that work in the field, and we are working on ensuring the field staff have what they need IT-wise.

We found that IT resources in the firm are too centralized to respond quickly to staff needs and we are doing something about it, with the guidance of a partner of course. The inertia of centralization isn’t a new problem but hopefully our committee will be able to effect positive change and improve productivity in the field and client service.

Mentoring

As for pairing younger staff with mentoring partners, our firm already has a mentoring program in place. I’m not paired with a partner however, but a manager. I think it would be better to have two or more mentors — one at the manager or senior manager level(s), and a partner.

Younger, new staff often feel like the partners don’t know who they are (and that’s often the truth), so having them become more involved in the beginning will really help staff feel valued and encourage their development and loyalty to the firm. It’s a net benefit for all parties involved, really.

Client Acceptance

More important in my opinion to accepting new clients and ensuring the capacity is there, is the issue of client retention. It’s far more demoralizing to work on a client that is abusive towards the auditors than it is to work long hours. In fact, I have a client that is incredibly long hours for 3-4 weeks straight and it is one of my favourite clients! Why is that? The client’s staff makes the work fun and enjoys the audit!

That being said, the effort to ensure staff workloads are appropriate is undoubtedly appreciated.

The three strategies the article touches on are all important in the fight to keep young staff on board at midsize firms. It’s great to hear that firms are starting to implement them in earnest, as it indicates that staff like me will continue to feel valued and challenged as we build our careers and serve clients.