The IT audit function continues to play an increasingly important role in modern business, as organisations look to optimise their operations by leveraging the latest technology.
Barclay Simpson's new internal audit market report
revealed that demand for IT auditors, particularly among large domestic banks and the big four consultancies, is considerably higher than for general auditors.
So what can IT auditors expect from the year ahead? Let's take a closer look at recent research and identify key trends that businesses and candidates can expect to see over the next 12 months.
1. Recruitment budgets increase
Our survey revealed that 32 per cent of internal audit departments have higher budgets to recruit staff in 2017, but fund increases are far more likely for IT auditors than individuals with more generalised skills.
There is also a notable shortage of senior and lead IT auditors, as well as candidates with data analytics skills and knowledge of upcoming regulatory changes, such as the General Data Protection Regulation.
2. Cyber security still a key issue
Cyber security is a crucial consideration for many corporate governance professionals, but recent research from Protiviti
showed IT audit leaders will be at the centre of such discussions over the coming year.
The organisation advised IT auditors to be vocal when providing consultations on cyber security and also recommended that senior executives understand the value of the IT audit function as a resource when tackling these problems.
3. More involvement in significant tech projects
The Protiviti report also noted that IT audit has a surprising lack of involvement in many major technology implementation projects worldwide. In fact, 12 per cent of companies didn't involve the department at all, while 65 per cent only brought in IT audit professionals after the project was finished.
As the year progresses, it's likely that businesses will look to not only involve IT auditors in more technology initiatives, but also engage them earlier in the process.
4. Contractor demand will remain steady
Our research suggests that internal audit contractors are highly sought after in the current economic climate, with demand centred on London and the South East.
But organisations are specifically looking for IT auditor contractors with project assurance, change management and transition methodology skills. Retail banks are especially keen to find professionals that can help oversee the implementation of new applications and upgrades of current systems.
5. Executives become more interested in IT audit
Company boards are already placing more value on the IT audit function, and this trend is likely to continue in 2017. Protiviti figures show that 48 per cent of IT audit directors now regularly attend audit committee meetings, up from just 22 per cent in 2012.
An increasing number of IT audit heads are also reporting directly to CEOs, with technology-based risk high on the agenda for senior executives this year.
6. Lack of skills may prevail
Both our research and Protiviti's report suggest that businesses may struggle to source candidates with IT audit skills this year. Our figures show that just 49 per cent of internal audit departments believe they are adequately resourced, with 73 per cent of respondents finding it difficult to recruit.
Meanwhile, Protiviti found that a shortage of internal IT audit skills was one of the most common reasons that organisations worldwide rely on external resources to augment existing capabilities. Approximately one quarter of businesses said this was their key problem.
As the year progresses, we expect demand for well-qualified IT auditors to remain high, particularly those with experience in more senior roles. Ultimately, technology poses a number of challenges for corporate governance departments and organisations must strengthen their capabilities in this area to remain competitive. Our 2017 Market Report combines our review of the prevailing conditions in the internal audit recruitment market together with the results of our latest employer survey.
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