The Future of Internal Audit is Assurance

National audit

In the last couple of days, I have:

  • Listened to an internal audit executive as he shared a thought leadership piece from EY. In it, they talk about moving from the bottom left quadrant of internal audit maturity, which they describe as “assurance provider”, to the top right, “business advisor”.
  • Read an article by a practitioner for whom I respect on the future of internal audit.

That is after reading multiple pieces in the past that talked about Internal Audit 2.0, 3.0, and so on.

All of this had me ruminating on how I see the future of internal audit myself.

Let me start with the EY idea that providing assurance is a low level of maturity.


Imagine you are asked by a couple to provide them with assurance that their child, Adam, will be able to achieve his wilderness experience goals and return safely.

That is no small task!

You need to learn a great deal before attempting to provide any level of assurance. For example, you need to know:

  • What is this “wilderness experience”?
  • What are Adam’s goals?
  • What can happen, especially what can happen and cause him harm? But you also need to know what needs to happen if he is to achieve his goals?
  • What are Adam’s strengths and weaknesses? Is he fit and healthy? Can he make intelligent decisions?
  • What is his level of confidence? Is he over-confident?
  • How well has he done in the past?
  • What help will he have? Is it reliable? Will it be sufficient?
  • What equipment, etc. will he have? Is it reliable and sufficient to address any hurdles and other tasks?
  • How much risk of harm and how much risk of failing to achieve his goals are Adam and his parents willing to take? Do they agree on that?
  • Will he be able to adapt with agility if conditions change?
  • …and more.


Providing assurance involves assessing the current situation, looking forward and anticipating what might happen in the near future and longer term, determining whether that is acceptable, and if it is not helping decision-makers take appropriate actions.

The future of internal audit is delivering that level of value – a challenge and goal for many. The only question IMHO is how and when this will be achieved. Read more:

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