Things to consider when preparing for your annual internal audit opinion


This guidance is designed to support chief audit executives (CAEs) in preparing for their annual opinion or for the more experienced to review and possibly rethink their approach.

An overall opinion is the professional judgement of the CAEs based primarily on the results of individual internal audit engagements, supported in some instances by incorporating other reliable assurance information. It is for a specific time interval determined by an organisation, most commonly a year.

There are always choices in how assurance is provided and how it is reported. CAEs, in partnership with their governance leaders, should debate the level of overall assurance that is required to provide an opinion and how the different resourcing options enable it: in-house, co-sourced, outsourced.

CAEs are encouraged to provide an overall opinion in line with IPPF Standard 2450.

An overall opinion is mandatory in the public sector to inform and be part of the organisation’s annual governance statement, as detailed in the public sector internal audit standards (PSIAS). It is also mandatory within financial services, as explained in the Guidance on Effective Internal Audit in the Financial Services Sector.

Purpose of the overall opinion
Minimum expectations
Preparing to make an opinion
Assessment criteria
Forming an opinion
Qualifying the opinion

Reporting format


Appendix 1 

Purpose of the overall opinion

All organisations have defined accountabilities for governance, risk management and internal control, such as audit committees and boards. These bodies are often required to sign-off or make statements on the adequacy and effectiveness of these matters yet they work remotely from the day-to-day of the organisation and need support, a trusted advisor…internal audit.

Individual audit engagements provide targeted micro-assurance.

The overall opinion is different; it is macro-assurance over a defined period of time.

This requires CAEs to bring these disparate assurance threads together using themes, trends, evidence and professional judgement to provide…