The standing of the internal audit function within South African companies..


Lourens Erasmus* and Philna Coetzee

This study examined the standing of the internal audit function in 30 of South Africa’s large listed companies as perceived by the chairs of their audit committees, their chief executive officers, chief financial officers, and chief operating officers, as well as the chief audit executives. The standing of the internal audit function in these 30 companies was based on the academic and professional qualifications profiles of the chief audit executives, the composition and qualifications of the internal audit staff complement, the independence of the function and the expectations that various stakeholders have of the function. The study reveals that the overall standing of the internal audit function in these 30 companies was perceived to be high. However, there are a number of concerning aspects that include the fact that most of the chief audit executives are qualified and registered South African Chartered Accountants (CA(SA)) and not holders of the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) qualification. Additional concerns are that the chief audit executives’ reporting lines are not necessarily in line with currently perceived best practices; the stakeholders surveyed for this study held diverse views of the internal audit function; and in-house internal audit functions were viewed to be of a higher standing than those of outsourced functions. This study provides the internal audit profession with a scientifically researched benchmark of their status or standing in the eyes of their stakeholders and will enable them to measure changes to their status and effectiveness within their companies.

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