The top priorities for chief audit executives (CAEs) in 2023 are advancing data analytics, providing assurance on proliferating digital risks, and talent management, said Gartner recently.
In 2023 most CAEs are focusing on organisational and departmental digital transformation initiatives and improving team engagement and performance in response to growing assurance needs, said Leslee McKnight, Vice President in the Gartner Risk & Audit Practice.
“CAEs need to cover a wider, more challenging set of risks at a time when they are least confident in covering them,” she noted. “To do so, they must find a way to balance meeting their business’ assurance needs without compromising the needs of their teams.”
According to a Gartner survey of 112 CAEs on their key priorities for 2023 conducted from July to August 2022, the most cited priority for CAEs is making the leap to more advanced analytics applications such as continuous risk assessment, automation, and AI, followed by keeping up with a rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape.
The primary challenges for audit departments reflect the increasing need for audit teams to provide assurance over rapidly evolving technologies, expanded digital transformation and increased department efficiencies, Gartner pointed out.
To achieve these needs, CAEs are concerned about digitalising their audit departments and having the right talent and capacity to provide effective assurance over cyber and IT-related risks, the firm said.
“CAEs’ focus on providing assurance over technology and digitalisation and advancing audit’s use of data analytics is not new,” said McKnight. “However, audit executives will face increasing pressure to address these challenges as organisations are poised to increase their risk appetites and continue to expand digital investments during the next two years.”
Highlights of top priorities of chief audit executives
- According to the survey, while organisations’ assurance needs in the current environment present CAEs with a unique opportunity to elevate the influence of audit in the organisation, expanding demands also exacerbate the assurance challenges CAEs often struggle to solve.
- Although CAEs say that adopting more advanced analytics applications is a priority, very few are confident in their teams’ ability to do so.
- While most CAEs are focused on keeping up with a rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, many lack confidence in their teams’ ability to provide appropriate cybersecurity coverage.
- A similar confidence gap trend exists for covering IT risks and critical transformation projects, which CAEs also ranked as top priorities for 2023.
- To improve auditor engagement and retention, nearly half of CAEs are prioritising the development and communication of compelling auditor career paths.
- Gartner survey data suggests proactive career pathing is key to engaging and retaining employees in highly demanding working environments.