30 May 2024

Why demand for in-house internal auditors is rising in 2024

The internal audit job market is changing significantly, spurred by organizations’ changing needs and regulatory demands. Historically reliant on external consulting firms, many companies are now bringing internal audit functions in-house, creating new opportunities for auditors.

In May’s edition of MBK Talks, Kyle McMullan of de-risk Partners provides insight into this trend and its implications for the Internal Audit job market. Here are five key points from the discussion.

Shifting from Consultancy to In-House Teams

“Many organizations historically used external consulting firms for their internal audit function and are now considering bringing it in-house,” says McMullan. This shift signifies a major change in how companies approach their audit needs. By building larger internal audit teams, firms can gain a more intimate understanding of their operations, leading to more effective oversight and risk management. This trend is expected to create numerous job opportunities over the next six to 18 months, particularly for auditors seeking to explore new roles beyond consultancies.

The Decline of the Generalist Auditor

“The age of the generalist auditor is gone,” McMullan says, highlighting a crucial shift in the industry. Today’s internal audit landscape demands specialists in financial crime, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance. This specialization allows auditors to provide more targeted and valuable insights, addressing complex issues that require advanced knowledge. Auditors must consider focusing their careers on niche areas to remain competitive in this evolving job market.

The Rise of Specialized Knowledge

Finding auditors with specialized knowledge, particularly in financial crime or cybersecurity, is “incredibly valuable and rare,” McMullan notes. This scarcity drives demand for professionals who can navigate the intricate regulatory environments and technological challenges modern businesses face. Auditors who invest in gaining specialized skills and certifications will likely find themselves in high demand, with opportunities to command higher salaries and take on more strategic roles within their organizations.

In-House Auditors: Living and Breathing the Business

“In-house internal audit allows you to live and breathe the business,” McMullan explains, emphasizing the benefits of being embedded within the company. Internal auditors can develop a deeper understanding of the organization’s operations, culture, and strategic goals, which improves their ability to identify risks and provide meaningful recommendations. This close integration with the business also fosters more robust relationships with other departments, promoting collaboration and trust that can lead to more effective risk management.

Navigating a Challenging Job Market

While the job market has been challenging, there is “light at the end of the tunnel” for internal auditors. Major restructures and mergers, such as those seen at UBS and Credit Suisse, have led to job cuts and market uncertainty. But, the shift towards building in-house audit teams offers new prospects. Organizations recognize the value of having dedicated internal auditors who understand their specific needs and can provide tailored insights, leading to a resurgence in hiring for these roles.

Recruitment and Talent Acquisition Challenges

As the demand for specialists grows, recruitment and talent acquisition face new challenges. Companies must now identify and attract candidates with niche expertise, which requires a strategic approach to talent management. This includes investing in training and development programs to build the necessary skills internally and fostering a culture that values continuous learning and specialization. Businesses must also explore how to make their internal audit roles attractive to potential candidates, emphasizing opportunities for career growth, skill development, and meaningful contributions to the organization’s success.

Catch the full episode of MBK Talks with Kyle McMullan below.

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