Internal auditing is playing an increasingly important role within organisations. The growing demand for
internal auditors, as business and corporate governance partners to organisational management, places a
larger burden on internal audit managers in respect of the competence and skill requirements they need in
order to meet their increasingly diverse and divergent responsibilities. In South Africa, internal auditing is
regarded as a scarce skill profession. Published research addresses competencies in various disciplines and
professions, including the general competencies required by internal auditors, and the role and function of
internal audit managers. However, limited information is available with respect to the relative importance of
specific competencies and skills required by internal audit managers.
The purpose of this article is to broaden this knowledge area firstly, by identifying the relative importance of
various competencies included in IIA guidance pronouncements as being mandatory for internal audit
managers. Then, secondly, these ranked IIA competencies are compared with South African and global
internal audit leaders’ perceptions of these competencies’ relative importance.
The article concludes that the terminology used in the various IIA guidance pronouncements and the
published reports on studies conducted by the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation are
ambiguous and should be standardised. Furthermore, it is believed that quality-related issues are not
appropriately addressed in the guidance pronouncements. This article also identifies substantial differences in
the levels of importance attributed to quality-related competencies by the various internal audit leaders. Other
areas where significant differences exist are those of soft skills (areas focussing on the performance of the
audit engagement) and of operational and management research.