May is Internal Audit Awareness Month!

3 May 2024

May is recognised internationally as Internal Audit Awareness Month.

Overseen by The Institute of Internal Auditors, the entire month is dedicated to celebrating the work of Internal Auditors across the world, as well as emphasising the value audit can bring to organisations and businesses.

At Veritau, we’re marking Internal Audit Awareness Month by taking a closer look at what internal audit is, why it is important and shining a spotlight on one of our very own Internal Auditors, Catherine McDonnell, to find out what a typical day looks like in the role of a Senior Internal Auditor.

What is internal audit?

Internal audit exists to provide independent assurance that an organisation is operating effectively. Auditors look at a range of areas to provide assurance to managers that internal controls, governance, and risk management are operating as they should be. Internal audits can cover any area of the organisation.

At a global level, the professional practice of internal auditing is governed by the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Global Audit Standards. The standards describe internal audit’s purpose as being to:

“…Strengthen the organisation’s ability to create, protect, and sustain value by providing the board and management with independent, risk-based, and objective assurance, advice, insight, and foresight.”

The delivery of internal audit services in the UK public sector is, in turn, governed by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS). These contextualise the Global Standards and place specific requirements on the practice of internal audit within the sector.

Taking account of both global and local requirements for the proper practice of internal auditing, Veritau’s mission statement for its internal audit service is:

To maximise our contribution to our clients’ success by providing timely, risk-based and impactful assurance, insight and advice.

Within a local government context, internal audit provides assurance that public funds are being used effectively.

What exactly do auditors do?

Internal Auditors can act as a catalyst for change, challenging current arrangements and championing best practice, whilst helping an organisation to achieve its strategic objectives.

This could involve:

  • Evaluating controls
  • Advising managers
  • Reporting on the effectiveness of policies
  • Evaluating risks
  • Assessing the risk management culture
  • Providing advice and insights
  • Analysing operations
  • Working with other assurance professionals eg fraud investigators or security expert


 A day in the life of Catherine McDonnell, Senior Internal Auditor

A day in the life of an Internal Auditor…

What better way to find out exactly what an Internal Auditor does than with a day in the life focused on one of Veritau’s very own Auditors.

Catherine McDonnell has been with Veritau for six years and works as a Senior Internal Auditor within our successful internal audit service. We asked Catherine to describe a typical day in her role.

What’s a typical day like in your role?

No two days are the same in internal audit! As a Senior Internal Auditor, I typically supervise or deliver multiple audits concurrently and my schedule varies depending on our assignments. Each audit is a self-contained project, so on a normal day I will be discussing progress and troubleshooting with auditors or meeting clients to agree the scope and findings of our engagements. Between meetings, I am often developing our audit programmes, completing tests for my engagements, or reviewing audit working papers.

Alongside my audits, I undertake various audit-related client activities. This includes following up on the outcomes of our audit reports and advising on governance, risk, and control matters at our clients’ internal committees. I also have line management responsibilities and enjoy supporting the development and mentoring of our fantastic trainees.

What skills are required in your daily work?

A lot of my day is spent speaking to and learning from people of all walks of life. Being able to actively listen, build rapport and communicate sometimes difficult messages are essential skills for any auditor.

Our engagements are mostly scheduled in alignment with client committee deadlines, so good time management practises are crucial. We use engagement dashboards to track audits and maintain project plans. At the start of each day, I also spend 5-10 minutes creating a daily ‘plan of action’. Our roles can be very fluid though, so it is equally important to be flexible and able to adapt to changing priorities or urgent requests as they come in.

What type of clients do you work with?

We provide internal audit services to a wide range of public-sector organisations including local or combined authorities of all shapes and sizes, national park authorities, council-owned companies and schools and academies. All our auditors are given opportunities to complete audits across our client base.

What attracted you to a role in internal audit?

After graduating from the University of York with a degree in Bioarchaeology, I started my career in libraries and archives. I was looking for a new challenge and something that would allow me to leverage the research, analytical and problem-solving skills I honed at university.

As soon as I saw Veritau’s traineeship advert, I jumped at the chance to apply those skills and satisfy a curiosity in how local government makes decisions that had been piqued in my previous roles. Since joining Veritau six years ago I can safely say that my curiosity has only grown with experience!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really value being able to learn something new each day. Every day is intellectually stimulating, and I am constantly exposed to new areas of our clients’ operations, applicable legislation, and best practises. In other circumstances this might be overwhelming, but Veritau provides great professional development opportunities, and I am very fortunate to be able to draw on the knowledge of our highly skilled and supportive team.

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing first-hand the fantastic work our clients do, often in very challenging circumstances, and being able to help them to achieve their ambitions.

Why is internal audit so important?

Public sector organisations are currently facing challenges greater than ever. The demand for services is on the rise, yet resources remain limited. Risks must be carefully balanced while still maximising performance and delivering required outcomes.

Looking for advice and support?

Our team is on hand to answer any of your questions and have an informal discussion about your requirements. We work with organisations across the public sector and can tailor our internal audit service to suit you. Contact our team of Internal Auditors today.

About Veritau

Veritau is a local government owned company providing assurance services to over 600 public sector clients. This includes:

To find out more about our company, click here.