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Why the CIA is more valuable than ever

The value of a certified internal auditor (CIA)

Why the CIA is more valuable than ever

Its no secret that earning the CIA certification provides great benefits to internal auditors around the globe, but in the wake of the global pandemic, some may ask: Is now the right time?

Yes! According to surveys from The IIA, organizations across the globe are relying on their internal audit teams now more than ever for their risk-based and objective assurance, advice, and insight. CIAs are in demand across the globe, making now the perfect time to advance your career!

The pandemic is further exacerbating what was already a problem for senior management and boards – finding qualified and trusted risk management expertise. This is an opportunity for internal auditors to step up, establish themselves as trusted advisors, and certify that they are risk management experts

Joseph MaurielloDirector of the Center for Internal Auditing Excellence at the University of Texas, Dallas

As certified experts in internal audit, CIAs are equipped to lead their teams and organizations toward a secure future, even during a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

CIAs provide assurance by identifying risks

The primary role of internal audit is to provide organizations with objective evaluations of risk and contribute to the risk management process. Risk is defined by The IIA Glossary as “[t]he possibility of an event occurring that will have an impact on the achievement of objectives. Risk is measured in terms of impact and likelihood.” CIA Part 1 focuses on the fundamentals of internal audit, with over a third of the exam content dedicated to risk management and control. The exam expects candidates to be proficient on the topics of risk management and control. This proficiency directly relates to helping an organization grow and navigate global crises.

During a global pandemic, risks are not just monetary. Organizations must also navigate the health concerns of employees, consumers, and clients. While organizations are certainly concerned with their bottom line, CIAs are uniquely equipped to understand the risks beyond the current finances of the organization and ensure the health of the business moving forward.

“Certification as a CIA is the profession’s gold standard for recognition of risk management expertise,” Joseph Mauriello notes. “The time is now for internal auditors to take the next step, become certified, and be recognized as the trusted risk advisors [in] their organizations to respond effectively to an ever-changing world.”

Getting certified as a CIA lets management know that you have the skill to not only identify the risks, but also to investigate those risks’ sources, rank their severity, and provide assurance that adequate controls are in place.

One survey showed that most industries expect their risk assessment frequency to increase and are prepared to update their internal audit plan to meet the challenges a global pandemic poses for their organization. Knowledge of the fundamentals of internal audit and experience in the field will be key to achieving both successfully.

CIAs understand the threats on cybersecurity in a remote world

The sudden impact of COVID-19 on the world meant that many companies had to quickly make preparations to allow their employees to telecommute. Prior to 2020, less than 3% of employees worldwide were working exclusively or mainly from their homes. A survey from The IIA shows that the number of employees working from home has jumped to nearly 90%.

This sudden shift meant any cybersecurity issues had little time to be resolved before these plans needed to be implemented. Even now, 9 months later, much of the work force is still working at home.

The CIA Part 3 exam ensures that certified CIAs have a strong foundation in everything from the purpose and use of information security controls (such as encryption, firewalls, antiviruses, etc.) to existing and emerging cybersecurity risks (such as hacking, piracy, ransomware attacks, etc.). CIAs are tested on the basics of cybersecurity and how to handle these changes.

Both on the CIA exam and around the world, there is currently a focus on the differences between employees using organization-owned and managed devices and using personal devices or a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, over half of organizations worldwide have had to implement new technology for remote work and related security.

Knowing the dangers these new policies and devices can present to the safety of the organization is critical. While the IT department should be equipped for handling these threats, CIAs are able to assist in mitigating risk by finding problems before they occur.

CIAs help management make impactful decisions.

CIA Part 3 is dedicated to understanding other aspects of the financial health of an organization. Topics include understanding how staffing processes and financial accounting are typically handled.

This focus ensures certified CIAs are experts management can trust and leverage when they make decisions that have lasting impacts on the organization. Financial risk is high in the current economy, so CIAs are expected to look at the big picture and help reduce this risk, which will ensure the future of the organization.

A majority of organizations worldwide have reviewed their business continuity plans and conducted detailed assessments of short-term impacts of the global pandemic. While most organizations are focused on cutting costs to protect their bottom line, CIAs know to look past just the numbers and see the long-term effects of such decisions.

For example, one of the most drastic cost-saving techniques is a mass layoff or furlough. CIAs are able to understand the inherent risks that can come with drastic staffing changes during economic turmoil beyond just the immediate benefit of saving costs. How will this affect productivity? How much will it cost to rehire talent if its needed? How long will it take to train these new hires if demand picks back up quickly?

CIA Part 2 emphasizes the importance of the internal audit activity carrying out its responsibilities in a systematic and disciplined manner. Doing so provides management with meaningful intelligence about the organizational state of risk management, which will impact the overall health of the organization.

Without the valuable insight from CIAs and internal audit teams, organizations may not navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic successfully enough to return to normal. As such, internal auditors should strive to remain on top of industry innovations and emerging technologies to be the person or team that management looks to for solutions.

Another survey from The IIA showed that nearly half of respondents expect to increase their use of data analytics, and 39% of them expect to increase their use of agile auditing techniques. If internal auditors don’t currently have these skills, developing them quickly will prove beneficial for both themselves and their organization.

For an internal auditor, earning the CIA is the next logical step after sharpening these skills. With a complete review system, you can accomplish both at the same time!

Are organizations seeing the value of CIAs?

Yes! According to several surveys from The IIA, organizations continue to see the value of having CIAs on staff and performing key internal audit tasks.

Joseph Mauriello explains: “As experts in risk identification and assessment, CIAs are needed now more than ever to provide objective insights to facilitate an informed managerial response to the pandemic.”

According to one survey, 66% of internal auditors said their organization’s internal audit budget for internal staff was expected to stay the same. Over half of respondents said the budget for professional development (such as helping staff earn certifications) was also expected to stay the same or increase.

For internal auditors, this means that earning your certification can increase your earnings even while many organizations are limiting compensation due to the economy. By talking to your employer, you may be able to get assistance with the exam costs. With a review system, such as the Gleim Premium CIA Review System, you can be sure to pass quickly and meet your career goals.

If you have ever considered getting the CIA to further your career, now is the perfect time to invest in yourself and achieve your goals. One of the biggest obstacles to achieving the CIA is time, and right now, with telecommuting and social distancing, people are often finding themselves with more free time that can be used to study.

Ready to take the next step in your career?

If you have questions on the CIA exam and how to earn your certification, check out our Free CIA Exam Guide. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of information to help you take the next step in your career.