Grant Thornton LLP surveyed approximately 300 chief audit executives (CAEs) from U.S. institutions to better understand and articulate what is on their minds at a critical point. With the recession behind them for the most part, and promising economic signs emerging, organizational demands are pulling internal audit in new directions. As CAEs strive to balance competing goals and initiatives, the findings point to areas of opportunity.

This survey builds on Grant Thornton's prior CAE survey from 2011 and confirms that internal audit is receptive to assimilating newer and broader responsibilities for evaluating emerging risks, ensuring appropriate corporate governance and incorporating technology into internal audit processes. It is the journey from recognition to reinvention that is likely to present the biggest challenges and potentially the biggest rewards.

A highlight of the findings:

  • CAEs can better harness the power of technology.
  • They need to address risks related to cloud computing and cybersecurity threats.
  • Trends point to the need for a more global internal audit presence.
  • CAEs have mixed views on their role and career path.

Advancing toward what seems to be a period of growth and greater stability, the timing may be ideal for internal audit to take on an expanded mandate and push for significant improvement opportunities for their departments and their organizations.

"As businesses prepare to capitalize on an improving economy, internal audit is called on to help light the way through improved insight and smarter risk management."