Audit teams, both large and small, often cite talent shortage as the primary deterrent when filling open positions. Every candidate has a unique set of skills, and unfortunately, we may have pass up a person with a great resume if we are trying to hire to fill a specific need in our department. We are all faced with the same three possible solutions to the talent gap: hire, upskill, or outsource. If we look deeper into each option, one path may be more viable than the others.
Finding auditors who are already skilled in our needs can be extremely difficult. For example, according to a recent Gartner study1, auditors with preexisting data analytics skills make up just 3.5% of the workforce. Finding the ideal candidate with this highly sought-after talent may be nearly impossible in a tight hiring environment. While this is just one example, think of all the areas you might need to supplement your team. Many departments are looking for auditors with IT skills, experience auditing culture, advanced risk assessment capability, and many other areas.
If you are not able to hire more staff or cannot find the right candidate, you might consider training. A study conducted by Wolters Kluwer TeamMate found that most departments budget about $7,000 per auditor annually for training. On the plus side, upskilling allows your current staff to grow and explore new areas within auditing. Training is certainly a good plan for long term success, but the upskilling approach may not realize benefits for several months—with expertise likely several years off.
If you need results much faster you can consider outsourcing, bringing in subject matter experts to solve an immediate need. Traditionally, audit departments partner with external audit firms for outsourcing. While many organizations do outsource some audit work, this option is expensive and may be discontinued when budgets are tightened, with the result that skills are not retained internally.
With the rise of the gig economy a more recent option has emerged: freelance auditors. Some auditors have found they can add more value by specializing in a niche within audit. For example, if an auditor has developed financial audit expertise, she may not want to spend time on operational audits and process evaluations. She’ll want to use and sharpen her finance talents. Such experts have learned that when hired full-time, their managers generally want them to work as a generalist. By hiring freelance auditors, you can bring in the experts when you need their skills on particular engagements without taking up your full-time staff positions.
In the real world you will probably choose a mix of all three paths. With the changes forced on all of us by the coronavirus pandemic, we will likely need to get creative when it comes to filling our own talent gap. Now is a good time to look internally and evaluate your own talent levels and identify gaps related to your audit plan so you can investigate paths for finding the right people.
1 Gartner 2019 Recruiting and Screening for Audit Talent in a Tight Labor Market