Role of Ethics in Internal Auditing

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If you are considering investing your time and energy into pursuing a career as an internal auditor, you already know that you have a challenging and rewarding career path ahead of you. Internal auditing is a field that has a strong reliance on the concept of integrity and of acting with ethics, but what does this mean? Just as an internal auditor will give a quantitative rating to the problems and issues at a company, you will find that the Institute of Internal Auditors, also known as the IIA, has handed down guidelines regarding the role of ethics and what needs to be understood by every certified internal auditor that holds their globally recognized certification.

The Intent of Ethics
At the most basic level, internal auditing is meant to provide the people who are requesting the information with a clear picture of their company. This is designed to improve the company over all and to give the company a clear-cut method to evaluate and improve everything from internal policies to business strategies to risk management. Because the role of an internal auditor can touch so many people and resources, it is important that the auditors themselves are held to a clearly stated and transparent code of ethics. There are four areas that the code of ethics is meant to address and only when a certified internal auditor is compliant with all four will he or she being doing the job for which they were hired.

The quality of integrity refers to the ability of the auditor in question to establish trust with the people he or she is working with and to provide them with proof that their judgments can be relied upon. With regards to this quality, an auditor is required to perform their job with honesty, responsibility, and diligence, as well as make the disclosures that are expected by the law and the profession. The auditor must be knowingly be a party to illegal acts or activities and he or she will continue to act as an ethical conscience for the organization that retains their service. He or she will also respect the goals and aims of the situation by which they are employed. It makes a great deal of sense that this is a part of the role that ethics plays for this position; without it, no one would ever trust them or look to turn business over to them!

Objectivity refers to the ability of the internal auditor to put aside personal feelings or prejudices and to perform the duties that are expected. These duties may involve gathering, evaluating, and communicating uncomfortable information about the issue at hand, and it is important that they make a reasoned assessment of the problem and that they do so without regard to their own interests or under undue pressure from others. In light of this fact, it is important that the auditor not engage in any activity or relationship that might interfere with their ability to do their job well. This includes relationships and activities that will conflict with the goals for which the auditor is hired. It is also important to make sure that there is no suspicious exchange of gifts or favors. Finally, objectivity refers to the fact that all pertinent facts regarding the case or issue at hand is presented clearly and in a timely manner.

Confidentiality essentially refers to the quality of respecting the ownership of the information that they deal with. The information that an internal auditor might be dealing with can be very sensitive and it is important for them to be able to resist the temptation to disclose it unless they have the proper authorization to do so. Unless there is a legal or professional reason to make sensitive facts known, it is imperative that the internal auditor keeps confidential the information with which he or she has been entrusted. This essentially means that they will use the information that they have been given wisely and that they above all resist the urge to use the information that they have learned for personal gain or in a way that would defy the law or aid in the breaking of the law. They are required to act in the best interests of the company that is employing them.

All internal auditors are required to only engage in services for which they are qualified. No internal auditor will take a job without making sure that the job is within their skill set and within their realm of experience and knowledge. They will also act in accordance with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, and they will also continue to work towards improving their efficiency and the quality of the service that they provide their clients. Essentially, this refers to the fact that an internal auditor must be able to do what they say they do, whether it comes to down to promises of reports or of having the right training to work in the industry that they are auditing for.

When you want a career that challenges you and lets you see the internal workings of a company, internal auditing might be a perfect fit. Take the time to consider what you're looking at when you think about getting involved with this area of service.
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