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Make the switch from external audit to internal audit

Career advice

Specialism-HR-160px-x-160px_1If you've had the opportunity to work in external audit whilst completing your training, you might think you know what internal audit is all about.

Think again. Internal audit roles can be very rewarding and often lead to positions at more senior levels of the company.


Here we explain how an internal audit could make your career

Ireland’s economy has seen significant growth in the last 12 months and this is having a positive impact on industry and financial services companies.

As a result of this continued growth and improved confidence in the market, accountancy & finance roles are becoming more common, especially in the case of internal audit jobs.

Leading industry and financial services companies are fuelling this demand for internal audit roles. They have learnt lessons from the recession and are bulking up their internal audit functions to ensure their controls are tighter than ever.

However, despite there being plenty of people around with auditing experience, we are experiencing a shortage of candidates willing to take these roles.

The Big 4 and Top 10 accountancy practices are turning out up-and-coming newly qualified chartered accountants year on year. Yet few of these budding professionals are interested in pursuing a career in internal audit. Why? I think it’s down to a number of common misconceptions.

Many fail to appreciate the integral role an internal auditor plays.

Internal auditors provide ongoing monitoring and assessment of the business while external auditors provide an outside opinion on whether or not the financial accounts are a true and fair reflection of the company’s financial position.

As an internal auditor you are involved in making recommendations and providing advice that can affect the overall direction of the business. It is a role that can utilise the skills of an auditor but give them a whole new perspective on the internal running of a finance department.

A recently qualified chartered accountant had the following to say about the move to internal audit: 

Coming from financial services auditing I found it very easy to get lost in the numbers, I was too busy trying to get AR’s to work out and numbers to agree that I lost sight of what I was actually trying to achieve. Since I have started working in internal audit I have found that you need to take a step back and look at the problems facing the company as a whole. We look at the big picture rather than getting caught up in specifics".

"Also working in internal audit of a financial services provider gives me great experience of very topical areas we as a country are facing. It is very interesting and provides great exposure to current issues. I feel that it will provide me with the best possible experience to further my career and carry with me in future opportunities”.

A career in internal audit brings numerous advantages.

There is always the opportunity of progressing from internal audit in large multinationals to numerous other roles once you have gained that key experience outside of practice. Whereas external auditors are forever moving from place to place, internal audit professionals primarily work in a single location.

One internal auditor said it’s like being a ‘member of the family’ – as opposed to a constant visitor. Equally, the hours in internal audit are often preferable to external audit – it’s common to work from 9am-5pm.

But can Ireland’s external auditors move? The answer is yes, easily. The essential skills and abilities are all there and ultimately moving to an internal audit role may be the most suitable fit from the experience gained from practice.

The transition can be made at any stage, but the newly qualified level is always the easiest point of transfer. Furthermore, this is also the level at which there is the greatest demand for internal auditors.

Our clients confirm that Irish companies are realising the importance of acquiring and investing in the best internal audit talent in the market. If they’re to achieve this, there’s a clear need to increase our chartered accountants awareness of the benefits of internal audit and the springboard effect that it can provide for their careers. 

Ireland Salary Guide 2019