What is a Certified Internal Auditor?

Certified Internal AuditorThe Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credential is one of the most highly sought after international certifications for internal auditors. Internal auditors with the CIA designation communicate to their clients that they are knowledgeable, competent and highly ethical.

Certified Internal Auditors

Internal auditors are financial professionals who conduct audits, develop procedures and test internal controls. They must adhere to testing procedures, identify financial discrepancies and generate actionable recommendations and concise audit conclusions. A certified internal auditor (CIA) is a financial profession that has successfully obtained the Institute of Internal Auditors’ (IIA) CIA credential.

The Institute of Internal Auditors

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is the global organization that oversees internal audit standards. They are the recognized authority, main advocate and primary educator of Certified Internal Auditors. The IIA provides their International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) that includes industry standards. For example, Mandatory Guidance standards provide the framework for internal audits. These include attribute standards such as individual objectivity, quality assurance and disclosure of non-conformance.

Eligibility Requirements

Exam candidates for the CIA program must meet certain education, character and work experience requirements. First, they must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program with two years of internal auditing experience. Alternatively, they may have two years of post-secondary schooling with five years of substantiated internal audit work experience. Otherwise, exam candidates must have seven years of verified internal audit experience. Second, a character reference form must be submitted that illustrates that candidate’s professional character.

The Practice Guides

According to The Institute of Internal Auditors, the IIA has issued numerous Global Technology Audit Guides (GTAG) concerning control, security and IT management. These guides are written in easy to understand language and are designed to provide direction when performing internal audits. Topics include data analysis, access management and business continuity management. There are also general practice guides to help with the audit process. Topics include integrated auditing, quality assurance, controlled environments and business relationships. Internal auditors rely on these guides to maintain the highest internal audit standards.

Internal Audit Job Description

Internal auditors will test and evaluate internal control systems. They must verify the reliability and accuracy of financial data. This may involve reviewing monthly balance sheets, interim financial reports and capital expenditures. They are held accountable to established auditing policies and procedures. Internal auditors must develop and execute audit programs in accordance with deadlines and expectations. They are also expected to take on unanticipated, temporary audit projects throughout the year. They must actively manage audit workflows and provide regular reports and updates to team members and management. They will evaluate the company’s compliance against internal policies and external regulations. This includes analyzing sales, revenues, contracts, purchases and collective business conduct. It will also require the internal auditor to develop a professional relationship with colleagues, departments and upper management.

Internal Auditor Characteristics

Internal auditors must have a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). They will need exceptional logical, diagnostic and organizational skills. They should have strong verbal and written communication skills with the ability to effectively convey critical information and recommendations. They must be able to work under pressure, adapt to sudden changes and interact with various people. They must be very familiar with software applications and financial databases. Outstanding project management and time management skills are a highly recommended.

Related Resource: Become an Auditor

To sum up, internal auditors are accounting experts that conduct financial audits for private companies. A Certified Internal Auditor is someone who has obtained the prestigious CIA accreditation from the IIA.