A Place Called Independence

Today McLeod Governance considers a concept so central to the proper exercise of internal audit that it is rarely considered, rarely debated and rarely challenged.

That concept – independence.

What is independence?

Why does it matter?

Are internal auditors independent?

And would it matter if they weren’t?

Firstly what is independence.

In its purest form independence is freedom from control or influence of another or others.

The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference.

In internal audit – why does it matter?

To borrow the phrase upon which a highly respected and well read blog is based – internal audit is there to honestly lay bare to the proprietors the true condition of the undertaking.

Internal Audit is not there to provide a biaised view but a true view.

One that is independent of the control of any other person’s judgement than their own.

For Internal Audit to exist it has to be independent.

Or does it.

McLeod Governance once raised this issue with a former Global President of the Institute of Internal Auditors and the reply was right on the money:

I suspect too many people think of independence as being independent of the organisation, whereas I believe the intent of the term is to be independent of being part of decision making, line management etc.

The essential element is the ability to be “objective” in assessing the organisation and providing opinions.

To show the importance of independence of thought McLeod Governance today calls upon the Institute of Internal Auditors to forgo the big cities for their next International Conference and visit what is the 226th largest city in the United States.

We would be there not to honour its most famous resident – the 33rd President of the United States – but to show to the world that irrespective whether Internal Audit is paid for by the organisation it only ever truely exists when it lives out the true meaning of what it is to be independent.

McLeod Governance still believes in a place called Independence.

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