Should I work in Internal Audit? – Work-life reality, exposure & exit opportunities

In this mini-series, we explore some of the most talked about Accounting & Audit exit opportunities to uncover what work-life reality is really like, what it can do for your career trajectory & the available exit opportunities. Articles in this mini-series include:


In this article, we’re covering Internal Audit – a team that resides within a corporate entity, focus on – you guessed it – auditing their internal processes.


Have you ever wondered:

  • What Internal Audit is actually all about?
  • How it is different to External Audit?
  • What new skills will I learn?
  • What clients, teams, senior partners etc. will I get exposure to?
  • What is the work-life reality like?


Let’s start from the top…


Why does the Internal Audit team exist?

One word: Enron.  


In a world where employees are ever more passionate about their employer being a positive force in the world – and heightened regulatory focus – senior management are increasingly concerned about fraud risk management, regulatory / policy compliance and other brand/reputation risks.  


That’s where the Internal Audit team comes in.  


Their role is to review and maintain the entire internal financial, operational & government risk system and controls.  


Better to spend a little money on a team to help you anticipate and rectify problems in advance, before a third party (i.e. the Big 4, regulator, etc.) snoops around and could potentially publicize your shortcomings for you.  


Work life reality & client/senior exposure

  • Whereas External Auditors focus mostly on financial & accounting risks (i.e. to report on the fairness and accuracy of financial statements), Internal Auditors will focus more on the efficiency of operations, alongside ethics, human resources / employee risk management, environmental, health & safety risks & other reputational risks.


  • Having said that, you’ll be spending a lot of time on the “financial” side of all the above, and your Excel skills will remain top of your day-to-day list.


  • Your team Director will hold the main relationship with senior leadership across the business (i.e. your “clients”), but responsibility will be devolved to you to interact with various teams for “research” into their processes, issues faced and potential improvements.


  • Given that such Internal Audit teams only really exist in medium-to-large size corporates, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get a bit of travel on your CV e.g. visiting your company’s factories in Norway/Poland/wherever, which might be quite fun for a while, but typically you’ll be based out of the corporate HQ office.


  • This role is typically one of the first to be pitched to you by recruiters as you get closer to qualifying, and is often tempting with a salary being offered up to 2x what you’re currently earning on the External Audit side. Note: this is purely a means to entice good quality External Audit candidates away from the “big brand” names e.g. the Big 4 and it won’t rise rapidly beyond that.


  • This team is all about risk-reduction. And I think it goes without saying that it’s an inward facing role with no customer interaction. Hence, no big bonuses available for you here (those are typically reserved for front-line employees bringing in the revenue/profits).


This mini-series intended to give you a quick and dirty overview to some of the most talked about Accounting & Audit exit opportunities. This particular post covered Internal Audit – a team residing within corporate entitites, with other roles coming soon!


Now if this is an area you’re considering, I strongly encourage you to check out our map of the landscape of Accounting & Audit Exit Opportunities, including Internal Audit to find out:

  • How does Internal Audit compare to other roles in the Finance realm?
  • What are my accounting & audit exit opportunities after spending time in Internal Audit?
  • How does the career trajectory in Internal Audit differ from others I’m considering
  • Are there other post-audit career paths suited to me?
  • And more…!


Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape

A lot of the clients we coach ask about moving into more strategic & commercial roles after spending time in traditional accounting & audit, but don’t know where to start or even what opportunities exist …so-much-so that we’ve put together a map of the landscape of accounting exit opportunities, which I encourage you to check out!


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Spice up your CV/Resume for the post-accounting & audit world

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