Singapore Government

Video Interview: The Evolving Role of the Internal Auditor

In the wake of rapid globalisation and regulatory changes over the past decade, the role of the internal auditor has evolved tremendously to maintain its relevance. 

The Institute of Internal Auditors Singapore and Robert Half spoke to four industry professionals, including Mr. Uantchern Loh, Chief Executive of Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), on how the role of the internal auditor has evolved and what it takes to attract and groom the next generation of internal auditors.

What are the Important Attributes an Internal Auditor today should possess?

Building Relationships

"I would say it’s really building relationships. You see, the role of an internal auditor is really, knowing what all the people in the organisation do." 

- Mr. Uantchern Loh, Chief Executive, Singapore Accountancy Commission


"I think it's very important to be able to build a network, to be able to build a relationship with anybody - your team mates, your heads, your managers, even with your auditees."

-  Mr. Lim Beng Wee, Audit Manager, Fraser & Neave Group

Integrity

"Integrity.. it's important that internal auditors have integrity in their daily lives.. they need to make sure that the conclusions that they need to communicate to the key exeecutives is done in an appropriate manner." 

- Mr. Anthony Lim, Executive Director, Global IT Audit, Las Vegas Sands Corp

"I would say that integrity is a given.. and if you ask me to pick the next two most important skills, I would think it's communication, as well as continuous learning."

- Mr. Alex Yan, Senior Manager, Group Audit, CLSA

How has the role of the Internal Auditor evolved?

Creative Thinking

"I think in the past, you would think that somebody who is very inward-looking and very reserved, and a non-sales kind of person would be perfect for an internal auditor role. But I think it is no longer the case. Now you need people who are out there to sell - not selling products, but selling internal controls; selling about risk management." 

- Mr. Alex Yan, Senior Manager, Group Audit, CLSA

"I think one of the things that most internal audit functions want but they don't really say it out loud, is creative thinking. It is one area that I think internal auditors don't naturally possess."

- Mr. Anthony Lim, Executive Director, Global IT Audit, Las Vegas Sands Corp

Communication

"Internal audit has definitely evolved over time, and that is also to keep up with the changes in the guidelines or expectations of the.. I would say.. investors. They expect the directors and the top management to do more."  

- Mr. Lim Beng Wee, Audit Manager, Fraser & Neave Group

"You cannot sit in the room and do your work heads-down; those were the internal auditors of the past. Today's internal auditors need to be out there.. and the way to sharpen your skills is to go out there, meet the people; talk, understand what are their concerns. Get feedback from them, and once again, not just in the company, but talk to the people outside the company - talk to the regulators; talk to your colleagues; talk to fellow members of the IIA. Only then would you have honed the skill in communication"  

- Mr. Uantchern Loh, Chief Executive, Singapore Accountancy Commission

 

How do you attract and groom the next generation of Internal Auditors?

Progress

"The critical thing is to encourage them to do things they won't normally do, so you help them improve their skills. Technical skills, to be honest.. you can easily attain. Non-technical skills are much difficult to attain because you need to continually practise them with someone else."

- Mr. Anthony Lim, Executive Director, Global IT Audit, Las Vegas Sands Corp

"It is a great job; it allows you to see a lot of things, gain your experience, lots of skills and exposure. And that's something that should be driven by companies when they want to attract talent to join them as internal auditors, not as a means to an end. Don't join me for two years and then transit into operations; or don't join me thinking that it's a dead-end job. These two things are really old-fashioned thinking about internal audit. Internal audit is, by itself, a great profession."

- Mr. Uantchern Loh, Chief Executive, Singapore Accountancy Commission

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