Internal Audit Jobs in Asia Pacific
The main theme that is evident across the region for the internal audit function has to do with supply and demand as employers are looking to fill a unique set of criteria within a limited talent pool.
The role of Internal Audit has become more specialised in response to an increase in regulations being rolled out both globally and locally. Financial services firms are in need of candidates possessing both audit and compliance experience in order to hit the ground running. Meanwhile, organisations within industry and commerce are tending towards hiring seasoned internal auditors with strong commercial experience of working in-house directly for a company. Language skills are also a factor with companies requiring professionals to speak both English and Mandarin, and Cantonese in Hong Kong particularly.
Within accounting and finance, internal audit has become an active area for recruitment in Hong Kong as companies endeavour to maximise cost-savings through the elimination of inefficiencies and control weaknesses. The limited talent pool means that professionals, particularly those with unique skill sets and those that are trilingual, can demand higher salaries with increases of 15-20% noted in the market. The same is true for middle and back office roles within banking and finance. At a junior level, employers are being encouraged to hire directly from the ‘Big 4’ or look at hiring from different business areas. The issue however is that companies are not prepared to offer other experience outside a candidate’s unique set of expertise which is making the prospect of leaving a role less attractive.
The additional requirements and data-security rule on payment cards, anticorruption rules and other regulatory issues within banks and financial services companies have fuelled demand for in-house auditors. As a result, the role of the internal auditor has risen in the ranks to become a key role within the finance industry.
Concerns for corporate finance departments regarding cybersecurity threats, following a series of high profile data theft incidents over the past two years, and the implementation of new guidelines pertaining to control systems are a particular driving force in motivating CFOs to strengthen their company’s internal audit teams. Singapore-based firms handling outsourced work from banks will be subject to hiring an independent auditor to go through their internal controls due to the risks posed to any transaction involving sensitive data and material.
The competition for candidates in areas of internal audit, regulatory control, risk and compliance is intense due to the implementation of regulatory measures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Contractors especially are in demand. More so however is the issue of securing domestic talent as the Ministry of Manpower continues its drive to tempt nationals back home. Salary increases range between 10-20% dependent on experience and skill. In addition to the financial services sector, there is a critical need for internal auditors in both the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.
As the face of the global and local economies has evolved, so too the requirements of the internal audit function has shifted away from the cost-containment prevalent during the economic crisis moving instead towards emerging IT, compliance and regulatory risks. More so, the once independent nature of the internal audit function has progressed to one of collaboration, reflecting the way many businesses are now operating around the globe.
The need for candidates who possess the right marriage of audit and compliance and risk indicates that financial services firms are likely to tap into the regulatory and risk assurance functions within the ‘Big 4’. In part due to new regulations, such as FOFA (Future of Financial Advice), compliance and regulatory specialists are high on the list of hiring priorities. The temporary and contractor market is also strong in Australia, though this looks to pave the way for an increase in permanent hiring in the near future.
The fact is, risks faced by businesses have experienced a significant change over the past decade so sourcing and acquiring the necessary skill set among auditors is proving a challenge in its own right. The current market seems ruled by unique combinations, both regarding a professional’s experience and skill set.