Thought Pieces

A selection of ‘thought pieces’ and papers written by James Paterson.


Coaching for Internal Audit

Coaching for Internal Auditors may seem an unfamiliar concept. In order to bring this to life this article (approved by a coachee) sets out, in detail, a discussion about ‘improving an auditors self confidence’ and ‘improving auditor presence’. It highlights how important it is to carefully reflect on the sources of ones own perceptions, it also suggests ways in which these can be re-framed in a more constructive way. The article aims to demonstrate what can go on, in practice, during a coaching session. It also seeks to demonstrate that with a relatively small investment of time, significant barriers can be overcome in terms of personal effectiveness.
Date: May 2015

Download: ‘Coaching for Internal Audit’

Dear Audit Committee Chair

A key challenge for any HIA (Head of Internal Audit) is the need to work effectively with key stakeholders such as members of the Audit Committee. This article summarises some of the key issues that can arise in the relationship between a HIA and Audit Committee Chair. It is based on extensive working with HIAs as part of the UK Heads of Audit Induction MasterClass, together with insights from HIA coaching. It provides details of some of the most important barometers for ensuring an effective relationship between the HIA and Audit Committee Chair and can be used as a discussion tool between a HIA and their Audit Committee Chair.
Date: September 2012

Download: ‘Dear Audit Committee Chair’


IIA UK Leaders Conference – Discussion On Independence 

Chaired a very interesting panel discussion on internal audit independence for the IIA UK Leaders Conference in London in March 2017.

I have written up the key points in an article that includes some great advice, but also looks at the real world challenges and dilemmas that internal auditors face to balance “value add” and being a “trusted advisor” with independence. It also includes the results from two polls outlining the views of the audience of heads of internal audit on the extent of these pressures. The article concludes with some specific ways heads of audit might test their independence, but builds most welcomed to me on

Download: Internal Audit Independence – in the real world

Root Cause Analysis – An important tool for Internal Audit

Over the past 14 years working in the internal audit arena I have seen a growing interest in the topic of Root Cause Analysis (RCA). My involvement in the topic has evolved from using it as part and parcel of a “lean auditing” approach, to running RCA webinars and seminars for the IIA UK, to the delivery of various in-house training workshops on this topic, and now more recently, offering a 1 day open course on RCA, as well as supporting the IIA UK to write a new practice guide on the topic.

This article explains:

  • What Root Cause Analysis is
  • What involvement should IA have in RCA
  • Why effective RCA is not as straight-forward as you might think
  • Why RCA is gaining interest in audit
  • Some practical steps audit teams can take

Download:Root Cause Analysis – An important tool for Internal Audit

Culture: Surveys vs. Root Cause Analysis

Taking a practical example of problems with credit checks in the sales process, this paper outlines some of the underlying reasons that these issues can arise. Based on a real case study, the paper explains how effective Root Cause Analysis can provide insights into the Culture of an organisation. In addition, it explains how effective Root Cause analysis can improve the quality of Internal Audit recommendations, often ensuring that these recommendations start to address cultural barriers to longer term sustainable remediation.
Date: May 2015

Download: ‘Culture: Surveys vs. Root Cause Analysis’

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