Finding the right talent to fulfil the role of compliance officer, to deliver the auditing requirements for your business, can be a challenge. You need to find someone who has the right mix of aptitude, skills, qualifications – and more importantly, experience in your industry, to deliver assurance to your business, customers and regulators.
To help you source the right compliance and audit management talent for your requirements this article shares the qualities you should be looking for at the recruiting stage.
Auditors must be able to quickly establish confidence with the auditee, and during the audit process must be the one who controls the agenda. They cannot allow the process to get derailed, and must have the assertiveness to pull it back on track. There will be times when the auditor needs to firmly state a position in the face of a hostile reception to bad news.
Because auditing involves a whole team of people who come together for the opening and closing meetings, it’s imperative that the process runs in accordance with the audit plan.
Auditees typically invest a lot of time and energy in preparing for an audit and it is important to harness this energy. Letting people down on the day of an audit may adversely affect the reputation of the auditor and affect ongoing relationships, which in turn can affect the ability to get the information required from the audit. Your ideal auditor is a person who soldiers on in spite of not feeling 100% from time to time. Reports too must be prepared on time and to the required quality – there is nothing worse than keeping people endlessly waiting for the audit report to be issued.
Determination is a key attribute for an auditor. They need to have the determination to dig down to the evidence they need to make a compliance decision – when the auditee is trying desperately to steer them in another direction. Determination is also required to not take the easy way out, and to get to the truth. Auditing is not for the faint-hearted.
Auditors need to explain a lot of things, and the more clear and succinct they can be, the better. They need to be able to explain why a regulation or procedure applies in a variety of circumstances, and the thinking behind their decisions. They also need to be able to write clear reports and recommendations in a way that people can understand and accept them without taking offence. Auditors need to be able to communicate well to all levels within an organisation: one moment they will be discussing requirements with people on the shop floor, the next they are explaining results to senior management in a closing meeting. To say you need to be a diplomat is an understatement!
Auditors often work alone and have to travel long distances to do their work. The work itself is lonely too, as they are generally on the other side of the fence from the people they’re auditing and have to make some tough decisions on their own. Auditors need to enjoy their own company, be happy to eat meals on their own and otherwise entertain themselves while away from their home base and family.
Because of the subjective nature of this role, it’s important that auditors have high ethical work standards and boundaries in order to make effective decisions.
You only need to examine the Enron case to learn the vital importance of principled thinking and actions on the part of those we trust to be our compliance eyes and ears and sometimes, brain.