IT Audit Careers in China
IT auditing in China has enjoyed rapid progress with much of the investment in exploration made by China's National Auditing Office. As information technology grew rapidly in the 1990s, the government acknowledged that the application of computer technologies was constantly expanding into various aspects of life resulting in the need for auditors to master information technology. The response began with enhanced training of basic IT knowledge and operational skills for auditors but eventually unfolded into a comprehensive plan for IT Auditing Development in 2002.
As global economic recovery continues to slowly ignite the financial industry in China, banks are beginning to face increasing challenges in their highly centralised information management. The growing complexity of information systems that banks are becoming increasingly reliant on to operate their routine business processes are producing greater inherent risks and security issues. As a result, the operation of information systems is now a basic and fundamental condition in order for a bank to run their business normally. In spite of the positive impacts that the introduction of information technology has brought to improve core competencies of banks, it has also introduced many risks that are becoming concentrated and increasingly prominent.
IT risk control now represents a significant portion of the banking sector in China as the management of banks becomes more focused and centred on the necessity and significance of IT audits as a routine measure of risk management in the banking sector. Simultaneously, government authorities continue to pay close attention to the control and management of such information systems. The China Banking Regulatory Commission has standardised its regulatory efforts directly linked with the technological risks faced by banks by implementing a series of measures and regulations. China's National Auditing Office has also taken further steps to develop and improve the standardisation of IT audits as they pertain to IT applications, databases, networks, and general security to ensure the consistent, effective, and standardised operation of auditing information systems in China. Consequently, one of the most important priorities for banks has been to implement IT audits to ensure and monitor IT compliance with government standards and regulations.
Given the growth in the financial sector and the close monitoring that the Chinese government places on information technology, the demand for IT auditors is expected to continue to rise dramatically as a result of the internal needs of banks for growth and competitive advantages in addition to the external requirements imposed by state regulators. As a result, recruitment for foreign-funded banks is now highly focused on individuals specialising in IT risk control and compliance.
Roles and Responsibilities
For those seeking IT audit jobs in China, the opportunities are plentiful. With more companies particularly banks and government agencies paying close attention to the quality of their IT processes, the demand for IT auditors in China is high.
With information technology playing a critical role in the efficiency and effectiveness of a company's standard business processes, it is increasingly becoming a critical success factor that is vital to every enterprise. But companies are faced with numerous risks pertaining to security, confidentiality, reliability, and the availability of information and systems. In addition, companies are challenged by government requirements to comply with regulations, laws, and even contractual commitments related to governance and internal controls.
The primary function of an IT auditor is to ensure that all risks are brought under control while ensuring that all IT processes are functioning efficiently, consistently, and effectively. As sensitive financial information is contained within IT systems, an audit is necessary to ensure that such information is reliable and to ensure that any risks can be managed.
A Chinese IT auditor will likely work closely with managers and decision makers whom they will need to report to particularly where potential risks are concerned as they will have to propose a recommended course of action in order to protect the company. Decisions made by company executives will often rely heavily on the reports produced by the IT auditor making the value and accuracy of such reports crucial.
IT auditors are typically responsible for the following:
- Analysis of IT systems, processes, and employees
- Advise on Cyber/IT security and risks
- Recommendations for reconfiguration of systems and processes when necessary
- Evaluating internal IT controls to ensure compliance with national and international regulatory requirements
- Assessing technical and logistical security according to industry or international standards in order to protect company assets
- Applying data analysis software to analyse data produced by information systems
- Evaluate all IT functions and perform system checks for long term effectiveness
- Design a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity
- Personality Traits and Educational Requirements
In China, the more certifications and higher educational credentials possessed can help one to stand out when trying to apply for highly competitive positions. Years of experience and knowledge of a number of IT systems including SAP and Microsoft Dynamics will help to set you apart from other candidates.
In addition to a strong ethical framework and the right personality traits, educational requirements typically involve a bachelor or master's degree in finance, accounting, or economics. Companies may require registration with the ISACA, the international body of IT auditors, and any or all of the following certifications:
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
Benefits of Working as an IT Auditor in China
For those working under an employment package for expatriates, the main benefit of working in China is the income to cost of living ratio. Packages will vary depending whether you are hired from abroad or locally. If you are hired from abroad, you can expect a salary that is in line with Western European or American standards including a full range of benefits.
Benefits may include housing allowances, 3-5 weeks of paid vacation, a round-trip flight ticket to return home each year, a full healthcare package that is in line with Western standards, coverage of all moving fees, evacuation service, benefits for your family, and much more. Your company should typically handle all tasks regarding your visa and work permits.
The cost of living has risen considerably in China in recent years, particularly in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai which are now ranked as some of the most expensive places to live in the country. However, compared to living in the United States or Europe, the cost of living in China can still be a bargain. The cost of living in second tier cities including Qingdao, Tianjin, and Hangzhou is approximately two-thirds less that of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. Further inland in cities like Chengdu, the cost of living is easily half of what you would need in the Big Three cities but your lifestyle expectations will also significantly influence your cost of living. If you're willing to live like the locals, you will find yourself saving a lot. That goes for common Western lifelines like internet. Internet speeds in China are notoriously slower than the West but if you are willing to be flexible with how you use it, you can enjoy local pricing.
How to Get an IT Audit Job in China
The best way to get an IT audit job in China is through your personal network of contacts. But if you aren't lucky enough to know someone in a company seeking IT auditors, the internet and Asia Pacific job boards are a great place to start. When applying to a company, the ideal expatriate worker will possess the right combination of language skills, hard skills, and soft skills. Hard skills include your technical and financial credentials which are high in demand. But while possessing the hard skills may land you an interview, soft skills including flexibility, maturity, and cross-cultural competency is what will secure a job offer. Human resource professionals know that not everyone can handle living in China so you can expect to be scrutinised extensively prior to any job offer. Naturally, any Chinese language ability will enhance your appeal.
The outlook in China improves each day as the country maintains its status as one of the world's most powerful economies. As China continues to prosper and more of the country shifts to technology based systems and processes, the demand for IT auditors will continue to rise.