The guardians of trust

Trust is key in every business and personal relationship – it is essential for cooperation and motivation. Trust should be high on the agenda of internal auditors, too. IIA President and CEO Richard Chambers emphasized the importance of trust for internal audit in his address to a 2013 IIA-Netherlands conference: “We see ourselves as the guardians of trust in our organizations.” As guardians, auditors should know what they are trying to protect, which is difficult when it isn’t defined, measured, or frequently discussed or monitored.

The essence of trust is being comfortable with a person’s behavior, particularly in situations when he or she has to make tough decisions. By trust, we mean informed trust – a situation in which a fair amount of trust is given and in which the given trust is periodically verified and mutually reconfirmed.

For internal auditors, trust involves both 1) their interactions with their organization’s leadership and audit clients and 2) their need to assess the trust levels within their organizations. As such, trust is fundamental to the effectiveness of internal audit and should be considered within audits and within the professional development of practitioners.

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