The interests, roles, responsibilities, and activities of internal auditors and external auditors are complementary and sometimes similar; in some cases, they overlap at one point or another. For example, the overlap between an internal auditor and an external auditor may include carrying out an efficient analysis of transactions; becoming intimately familiar with an organization’s governance, risk management, and internal control systems; and sharing and developing accurate final reports.
This is not a surprise; each role is based on a professional discipline and operates to that discipline’s standards. As such, the external auditor’s professional concerns include the inaccuracies and misstatements that affect final business accounts (financial information). Internal auditors are concerned with the wide range of governance, risk management, and internal controls (nonfinancial information). Keep in mind, internal audit and external audit do not compete and they do not conflict; rather, one complements the other. Both are crucial to good governance, and they should meet at some point and work together.
However, there are distinct differences in the roles, and certainly in the boundaries of the work that they perform. The differences are often under-recognized, and are perhaps even misunderstood and confused by stakeholders.
The internal auditor and the external auditor, jointly, are indispensable for good governance, with the internal auditor focusing on all nonfinancial information.”
—John Bendermacher, IIA–Netherlands
Read the PDF of Global Perspectives and Insights: Internal Audit and External Audit.