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MENLO PARK, Calif., March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Internal auditors looking to gain a professional edge will want to sharpen a number of non-technical skills, according to a new white paper just released by Robert Half and The Institute of Internal Auditors. Succeeding as a 21st Century Internal Auditor: 7 Attributes of Highly Effective Internal Auditors outlines the qualities that have emerged as essential for practitioners in a constantly shifting business environment.
The white paper is co-authored by Richard Chambers, president and CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors, and Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. Audit executives from global organizations representing diverse industries -- including financial services, manufacturing, defense and retail -- contributed their insights to the report.
The seven attributes essential for success are:
- Integrity -- This characteristic is important in any business setting but particularly critical in internal audit. Practitioners must possess the confidence, trustworthiness and resilience to handle a variety of complex situations. Integrity is difficult to measure and generally surfaces when real-life situations put someone's strength of character to the test.
- A talent for relationship-building -- Successful internal audit professionals foster credibility long before an audit begins. In building solid relationships, they can develop a better understanding of the company's products, systems and risks, thereby making more valuable contributions.
- Ability to partner -- Positive relationships create the foundation for partnering with business and operational leaders. The ability to partner enables internal auditors to execute effectively, balancing a customer service orientation with the ability to meet regulatory requirements.
- Communication abilities -- Writing concise, compelling reports is only one aspect of being a good communicator. Speaking, listening and finding the best way to visually present data are necessary to be effective in an internal audit role.
- Teamwork -- While relationship-building and partnering refer to working with people outside the internal audit function, teamwork applies to the ability to work well with one's departmental colleagues. The highly integrated nature of the business processes examined by internal auditors requires intensive collaboration among professionals with different areas of technical expertise.
- Openness to diverse perspectives -- Today's workforce includes people of different backgrounds, generations, experiences and skill levels. Internal auditors who have a global mindset and can view issues through multiple perspectives are highly valued.
- Commitment to continuous learning -- Professionals who are dedicated to lifelong learning position themselves for more successful careers because they are able to quickly adapt to change. As business needs and environments shift, naturally inquisitive internal audit professionals who are proactive about their development will be ahead of the curve, rather than behind it.
"There's no question the internal auditor's role has expanded in recent years. We're no longer just bean-counters. Today's auditors also need to understand how the beans are grown, harvested, marketed and shipped," said Chambers. "As chief audit executives assemble world-class teams, they now consider technical skills a given and look to non-technical attributes as the true differentiators separating the good practitioners from the great ones."
McDonald noted that in recruiting for internal audit roles, employers often weigh non-technical skills as highly as functional knowledge when evaluating job candidates. "Hiring managers are assessing leadership attributes, judgment and advancement potential as much as they are internal audit knowledge," he said. "Gone are the days when so-called 'soft-skills' were the 'nice-to-haves.' Now they are 'must-haves' for a successful career."
Chambers and McDonald will present a session at the upcoming IIA General Audit Management Conference to discuss the paper's findings in greater detail. The session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, in Las Vegas.
About Robert Half International
Robert Half International was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company has staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at www.roberthalf.com.
About The Institute of Internal Auditors
Established in 1941, The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is an international professional association with 180,000 members in 190 countries worldwide. The IIA is the global voice and standard-setting body for the internal audit profession around the world.
SOURCE Robert Half International Inc.; The Institute of Internal Auditors