Internal audit : How the internal audit has been affected by the Code

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/Internationella Handelshögskolan; Högskolan i Jönköping/Internationella Handelshögskolan

Abstract:

The Swedish code of corporate governance (the Code) was introduced 1 July 2005 aiming to raise the quality of corporate governance. This thesis investigates how the Code has affected internal audit. The purpose of this study is dual and aims to 1). Describe the internal audit, in companies on the A-list and O-list, and how it has and is believed to be affected by the Code. 2). Explain why the internal audit function varies between companies.

The first purpose has been carried out by using an inductive approach. The data has been gathered through qualitative interviews with companies, on the A and O-list, audit firms and the Institute of Internal Auditors. In order to fulfil the second purpose a deductive approach has been used. Quantitative data has been gathered from annual reports as well as homepages. The material has together with agency theory been used in order to analyse why the internal audit differs between firms.

The result of the qualitative interviews shows that the perceptions of internal audit differ. This can to a certain extent be explained by that there today are no accepted standards for internal audit. Neither does the Code explain what an internal audit function should involve. Overall, all respondents agree that the Code is nothing new nor revolu-tionary since the majority of the companies regard the regulations to be a matter of course. However, the demand of documentation and information has increased. The respondents also states that the acceptance and importance of internal audit has been raised further. All respondents believe that the role of internal audit will develop further. It is expected to become more consultative wherefore the internal auditor’s competence must be improved. Furthermore, the opinion is that COSO will be the framework that companies will apply.

The differences in internal audit practice have in this thesis also been analysed and explained by applying the agency model. The analysis has resulted in two proposals:

Proposal 1: The ownership structure affects the agency relationship which in turn leads to differences in the internal audit.

Proposal 2: Companies operating in complex business environments are more likely to have an internal audit function than entities in less complex businesses. Therefore, the existence of internal audit varies across business sectors.

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