Top 10 priorities for audit leaders in 2021

Ask any five heads of internal audit /chief audit executives their priorities and you will receive five different answers; understandable given the volatile, uncertain and complex environment we all operate in.

The Institute’s Risk in Focus 2021 publication is instrumental in understanding priorities and we have added to these with insights gained from our various CAE forums. Priorities need to be fluid, balancing delivery of relevant assurance to the organisation with the development of the internal audit function.

All CAEs, regardless of sector and organisational strategy will recognise the priorities listed here, some of them are not new.

The challenge is making time for them.

The purpose of this thought leadership piece is to highlight key priorities for audit leaders. Here are 10 priorities for audit leaders in 2021. 

1. Financial instability

These priorities are not in a particular order – except for this one. 2020 was tough and the macroeconomic environment suggests 2021 could be tougher still. Financial governance is an imperative not a priority for all organisations.

CAEs must be fully aware of their organisation’s financial position to be able to provide relevant assurance. At a time when the board is fighting for survival, the competencies of internal audit can be invaluable if targeted in the right way. Core traits such as the ability to think objectively, analyse information, apply commercial acumen, develop innovative solutions are intrinsic to survival.

  • Is this a risk or reality for your organisation?

If not reality, count your blessings and read on.

2. Relevance and agility

Organisations face a range of operational risks and issues as a consequence of COVID-19 including workforce planning, property management, budget constraints, cyber risks, new technologies and changing customer expectations.

The same is true for the internal audit profession.

CAEs need to ask how internal audit can…