Internal Controls Manager and Analyst Qualifications and Skills

What Is the Role of an Internal Controls Manager?

An internal controls manager, also known as a controls manager or internal audit manager, oversees and ensures the effectiveness of an organisation’s internal control systems. They reduce fraud and errors, improve efficiency, and follow laws and regulations.

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What Are the Qualifications Required To Work as an Internal Controls Manager?

You need education, skills, and experience to be an internal control manager.

A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is required. Common majors include accounting, finance, business administration, or a related discipline. Organisations may prefer a candidate with a master’s degree in a related field, such as an MBA, accounting, or finance.

Professional certifications, such as the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), are often necessary to complement experience.

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

Here are the general steps to becoming a CIA:

  • Meet the Eligibility Requirements: To be eligible for the CIA certification, you need to meet one of the following criteria: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (or equivalent); two years of post-secondary education and five years of work experience in internal audit or a related field; seven years of work experience in internal audit or a related field.
  • Join the IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors): You must become a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) to pursue the CIA certification. Membership can be actioned through the IIA’s website.
  • Apply for the CIA Programme: Apply for the CIA programme through the IIA’s website or by contacting your local IIA chapter. This includes paying the application fee.
  • Prepare for the CIA Exam: The CIA exam consists of three parts, which are typically taken one at a time as follows: Part 1: Essentials of Internal Auditing; Part 2: Practice of Internal Auditing and Part 3: Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing.
  • After applying for the CIA programme, you have four years to pass all three exam parts.
  • After passing the CIA exam, you need at least 24 months of internal auditing experience or equivalent. The experience can be fulfilled before, during, or after passing the exam.

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Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Europe differs from other countries as there isn’t a uniform European CPA designation. Instead, European countries have their qualifications and certifications for accountants. Yet, international accounting designations are recognised in many European countries. Here are the general steps to becoming a qualified accountant in Europe:

  • Get a Relevant Degree: Start by earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field.
  • Choose a Professional Qualification: Research the qualifications relevant to your country and career goals.
  • Meet Educational Requirements. Ensure you meet the educational requirements of the chosen professional qualification. This may involve extra coursework, exams, or specific academic programmes.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Most professional accounting qualifications in Europe need practical experience from an approved accounting firm or organisation gained through training contracts or work experience. The duration and nature of this experience can vary by qualification and country.
  • Pass Exams. Many European accounting qualifications have rigorous examination requirements. To become certified, you must pass exams in accounting and finance.
  • Register With the Appropriate Professional Body: Register with the professional accounting body responsible for overseeing your chosen qualification. This body will lead you through the qualification process, provide study materials, and conduct exams.
  • Licensing and Certification: After fulfilling the educational and examination requirements, you may receive a specific certification, such as Chartered Accountant, that allows you to work as an accountant in your country. Besides country-specific qualifications, some international accounting designations are recognised and respected in many European countries, such as the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants). These designations may offer a viable path to a thriving regional accounting career. To get detailed information and guidance, it is recommended to consult the relevant professional accounting organisations in your country.

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Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

To become a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), you must follow a specific process and meet the requirements set by ISACA (known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association). CISA is a globally recognised certification for professionals who audit, control and ensure the security of information systems. Here are the general steps to becoming a CISA:

  • Meet the Eligibility Requirements: To be eligible for the CISA certification, you must meet one of the following criteria: At least five years of professional experience in information systems, control, or assurance. This experience should be gained within the last ten years. However, if you have relevant work experience or specific educational achievements, you can substitute up to three years of this requirement. A maximum of three years of work experience can be waived if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a recognised university in a related field.
  • Join ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) : To access the CISA certification resources and benefits, you must become an ISACA member.
  • Register for the CISA Exam: Register for the CISA exam on the ISACA website. Pay the registration fee and select the exam location and date.
  • Pass the CISA Exam: The CISA exam consists of four domains: Domain 1: Information Systems Auditing Process; Domain 2: Governance and Management of IT; Domain 3: Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation and Domain 4: Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience
  • You must pass the CISA exam with a minimum score of 450 on a scale of 200 to 800 for each domain.
  • Apply for CISA certification. After passing the CISA exam, you can apply for the CISA certification by submitting your CISA application through the ISACA website. This application includes details of your work experience and education.

Which Professions Need a Certification?

Unless you are looking at an entry-level role as an internal controls analyst, an internal controls manager is expected to hold one of the above qualifications.

A manager has responsibility for his subordinates, who are likely to be part-qualified; an internal controls manager is expected to interact with external auditors, senior management, or local management of small businesses, and thus there is an unwritten expectation of a certification.

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What Experience Do You Need To Become an Internal Controls Manager?

To become an internal controls manager, you need a combination of relevant work experience in areas related to internal controls, risk management, auditing, and compliance. The specific work experience required can vary depending on the organisation and its particular needs, but here is a general guideline for the work experience that is often sought:

  • Internal Audit Experience: Internal audit experience is valuable for an Internal Controls Manager role. Employers often prefer candidates with experience in internal auditing, control analysis, or general exposure to control management. This experience provides a strong foundation for evaluating the control environment, financial controls, and control deficiencies, as well as a deep understanding of risk assessment and audit methodologies.
  • External Auditors and Assurance Experience: Experience in external audit and assurance services, whether in an internal or external auditing role, is relevant to the responsibilities of an internal controls manager. This experience helps develop skills in assessing controls and ensuring compliance with applicable standards and regulations.
  • Risk management experience: Experience in risk management or risk assessment is also valuable. It helps candidates understand risk identification, assessment, and mitigation, a core component of internal control management.
  • Compliance Experience: Experience in compliance-related roles, such as compliance analyst or manager, is beneficial, as compliance and internal controls often go hand in hand. Knowledge of regulatory requirements and industry standards is essential, and the controls manager will be relied upon to ensure compliance.
  • Supervisory and leadership experience: Many internal control managers lead a team or department. Prior experience in a leadership or supervisory role can be essential to managing and mentoring staff.
  • Audit Committee Interaction: Interacting with audit committees, executive management, senior management, or boards of directors in previous roles can be a valuable experience, as it demonstrates the ability to understand the control environment and control owners to communicate findings and recommendations to high-level stakeholders.
  • Business Processes and Data Analytics: Experience in data analytics, variance analysis, and reassessment of internal processes is also precious in an ever-evolving landscape.

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Only a few roles would propel someone’s career path towards Internal Controls Manager; as stated above, a background in Internal Audit or External Audit would give a candidate a head start, but what is most important is exposure.

What Skills Do You Need To Succeed as an Internal Controls Manager?

You need diverse technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills to succeed as an internal controls manager. Here are some essential skills and qualities:

  • Strong Knowledge of Internal Controls: To understand internal controls well, you must know about principles, frameworks, and best practices. You should also be aware of regulatory and compliance requirements.
  • Audit and Risk Management: Familiarity with audit methodologies, risk assessment, and risk management practices is crucial for identifying control weaknesses and mitigating risks.
  • Analytical Skills: The ability to analyse data, detect anomalies, and check control effectiveness is essential for identifying areas that need improvement.
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: You should be adept at identifying control weaknesses and proposing solutions to enhance internal control systems.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is vital for presenting findings and recommendations to senior management, audit committees, and other stakeholders. It’s crucial to convey complex information.
  • Leadership and Team Management: As an Internal Controls Manager, you may lead a team or department. Strong leadership skills and the ability to motivate and mentor staff are essential for success.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Building relationships and collaborating with various teams and departments to install control procedures and improvements are critical.
  • Technical Skills: Using technology and data analytics tools is essential, as internal controls often depend on automation and data analysis.

Success as an internal controls manager often depends on technical expertise, strong interpersonal and leadership skills, a commitment to ethical standards, and continuous learning. Identifying and addressing control weaknesses, enhancing compliance, and managing risk are central to the role’s effectiveness.

Find out more about life as an internal controls manager and other details by following the below links:

Job Description & Profile, CV Template and ExamplesHow to Become.

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