5 qualities every internal auditor needs – does your team have them?

From CFO News Daily: It’s a mission-critical function in every company: the internal auditor. And whether you have a dedicated position or tap general finance staffers to do the review, you want to make sure you have the right person for the job.

Heads up: That definition is changing.

Many of your peers are looking for different skills these days when deciding who to put in charge of this important responsibility. And traditional accounting and audit skills no longer top the list.

These days, when execs want an internal auditor, 25% recruit for the traditional auditing skills of accounting, while 43% recruit for business acumen and 40% recruit for industry-specific knowledge.

That’s the finding of a recent study from the Institute of Internal Auditor’s Audit Executive Center.

In fact, there are now five traits that your peers seek out in an internal auditor.

Recipe for success today

Take a look at what they are – how many does the person you have in this key role possess?

Trait 1: Analytical/critical thinking (81%). This is a trend we’re seeing throughout Finance these days. More and more CFOs want staffers who can do more than simply get the job done – they want folks who can analyze data and offer more strategic input. (In fact, some finance shops have started hiring people with engineering backgrounds because they find they posses this propensity for critical thinking.) Seems the internal audit function is no exception.

Trait 2: Communications skills (61%). Long gone are the days when finance folks stayed squirreled away in a back office. All your staffers need to be able to communicate clearly and tactfully with co-workers. This becomes extra important for the role of internal auditor because that individual must often communicate findings to the very top of the ladder, either the executive team or shareholders.

Trait 3: Data mining and analysis (51%). The term “big data” may get bandied around a lot these days, but there is value to be had from the pursuit. And internal auditors have access to so much critical data, it’s understandable why this skill would be sought after.

Trait 4: IT skills (45%). It takes more than some spreadsheet acumen these days to succeed in the tech realm in Finance today.  Your peers certainly agree when it comes to the internal audit function. The good news: There’s plenty of ways to improve these skills with training, and many training options out there to keep skills sharp and evolving.

Trait 5: Business acumen (43%). An internal auditor has to dig into all aspects of the business – you want that person to understand the larger environment your business operates in! Having financial tunnel vision could compromise the quality of the findings or at the least slow the process down.

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