Internal audit: graduate area of work
Companies are exposed to external audit as a result of legal requirements to ensure that investors, such as shareholders, can see that the company is being run in an honest manner. However, many companies also employ internal auditing teams.
Information gathering and advising
Internal auditing teams look closely at key areas of the business and report their findings to management; the information that they gather is used by senior management. Internal auditors can advise management if important areas of the business are being run in an inefficient, financially risky or even fraudulent way. Larger companies have their own internal audit teams but it is common for smaller companies to call in the skills of an organisation specialising in auditing work to carry this task out for them.
As a result of the Enron scandal just over a decade ago, strict regulations have been brought in by many jurisdictions to tighten up controls and stamp out corporate fraud. The level of transparency necessary for the safe running of a company versus the reduction in cost-causing bureaucracy is still an issue in this field and any further changes will have important consequences for auditors.
Graduates typically begin work in this field as audit assistants before moving on to more senior roles that cover larger areas of the business and tend to be more strategic. Degrees in business disciplines are looked at favourably for this role, as a successful auditor has to be able to see how the business as a whole functions in order to do their job properly. Other degree disciplines are also accepted as there are many other skills associated with this role.
Auditors are involved with staff at all levels of the company and tact and good questioning skills are an essential part of the job. They need a good knowledge of how businesses are run and an ability to liaise and communicate effectively, sometimes in awkward situations. An eye for detail is an advantage, as well as the ability to see the bigger picture.