Internal auditors can be good partners to CEOs: Indranee

Internal auditors should add value to their roles by offering advice on company strategy and harnessing technology to beat cybercrime, a conference heard yesterday.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said auditors can be "good partners to the chief executive" by drawing on their understanding of a firm's objectives and insights on its processes.

"This places you in an excellent position to advise your management on alignment of organisational plans and strategies," she said.

Internal auditors should ensure they understand the organisations they work for and the broader business environment, and communicate effectively so that their ideas are supported, she added.

Ms Indranee was speaking at the opening of the fourth annual Public Sector Internal Audit (PSIA) Conference held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

She co-chairs a working group under the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) that aims to develop strategies that will position the local legal and accounting services sector for the future.

She said it was important to raise the skills of internal auditors and that there is a shortage of good professionals in this field. The working group has found in its discussions with the business community that internal audit is seen as a differentiating factor for companies.

"Companies with strong internal audit functions tend to be better governed and, hence, enjoy stronger trust from clients, investors and other stakeholders," she said.

However, the role of the internal auditor is becoming more complex. The president of The Institute of Internal Auditors Singapore, Ms Tan Boon Yen, said the rise of cyber-security risks means internal auditors have to make better use of technology themselves.

After all, firms face the threat of having sensitive data stolen or leaked, she said, citing the recent "Panama Papers" incident and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010.

The two-day conference ended today.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story said that the conference ended on Thursday, April 21. It ended on Friday, April 22. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'Internal auditors can be good partners to CEOs: Indranee'. Subscribe