Jamming with Jason E26: Why Most Auditors are NOT Trusted Advisors

Are you a trusted advisors in your organization? You may think so, but do the executives in your organization actually perceive you as a trusted advisor? Most auditors have not reached this status, and instead feel frustrated or ignored.

In this episode I’ll discuss a framework you can use for determining where you are currently, and what it would take for you to get to trusted advisor status. And I’ll warn you right now, the answers are not what others are telling you to do. In fact, if you listen to others, you will likely continue to be frustrated. You’ll also hear some questions to help you do your assessment and start making your plan.

We all just want to be big trusted advisors (and live in hilltop houses, driving fifteen cars … nod to Nickelback) and here’s how you can get there.

To fill out your application for membership in the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) Forum visit: http://bit.ly/cae-forum-join The open enrollment period is only open until Friday, 13 September 2019, so get your application submitted today or you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period.

To listen and for complete show notes and links to downloads, visit: http://www.jasonmefford.com/jammingwithjason/

To listen to this and other Jamming with Jason podcast episodes for CPE credit, visit: https://ondemand.criskacademy.com/courses/

The #1 #internalauditpodcast in the world has interviews and discussions (jam sessions) relevant to Chief Audit Executives and professionals in #internalaudit, risk management, and compliance.

Transcript

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Welcome to another episode of jammin with Jason and welcome back. My friends, I am glad to be with you again this week.

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Now some of you may have taken some offense at the title of this week’s episode, which is why most auditors are not trusted advisors. So let me get in and talk a little bit about that. Because what I want to do is go through and share with you, kind of a model that I’ve been developing

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To help explain better to auditors maybe why they’re so frustrated why they’re feeling ignored and not really feeling like they are accepted as a trusted advisor in their organization.

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Because there’s some different reasons for this. And what you’re going to find as you listen today in, like I said, I’m preparing another resource that I’ll actually be

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Sending out or sharing with the world here in another month or two as I’m finishing to develop it.

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But I think, again, one of the reasons why you’re feeling frustrated and ignored is you’re not actually viewed as a trusted advisor by others in your organization.

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Now, I know we all have this aspiration that well of course we’re internal audit we’re providing insight and we’re doing all these things and you know you hear the profession.

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Talk about all of these aspirations about how we should be viewed, you know, the kind of resources that we should get who we should report to

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And all of those things are aspirational. Now some people they actually have that going on in their organization.

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But what I find from talking to lots of auditors all over the world and working with Chief out of the executives and coaching them is most people don’t feel that way.

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They feel frustrated. They feel ignored and there’s some reasons why. And actually, the way to fix that is usually different than most people are telling you

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So if you continue to do the things that everybody else is telling you that you need to do in order to become a trusted advisor.

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Chances are you’re going to continue to stay frustrated and ignored. So what’s the difference. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

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So I’m going to share with you a little bit kind of about the thought process here. And like I said, this has come from me working years you know decades technically in my, in my personal career.

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But also helping and working with people in internal audit and chief executives over the years.

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So I’m going to go through and talk about that and kind of explain and give you a different way to look at this and like I said, this is kind of a precursor for more that is to come.

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Because I’m actually going to be developing a whole resource that you can get more information on this, but I wanted to get this information out to you.

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Today, so. So we’ll talk about that kind of what some of the thoughts are around that and what you need to do. But I’m also going to give you some questions to ask yourself.

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For you to start kind of assessing where you are at and maybe some of the things that you need to do to improve that and move closer towards

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trusted advisor status. Now if if you’re in your car driving or you’re out, you know, exercising, then don’t worry about it. Come back and maybe, listen to this episode again.

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Because this is one that probably would be good for you to listen to twice. But if you’re in your office or you’re in a place where you actually have access to a pen and paper.

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This is probably a good episode for you to take some notes on because, again, I know this is in an audio format.

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But I’m going to try to explain and share with you kind of some pictures that you can take a note take notes on and actually write down

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Two by two matrix that we’re going to walk through and put some words in some of the different buckets to help you understand this concept.

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Okay, so the first thing is that as we get in it, you know, again, there is this desire for our profession to be seen as a profession.

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And for us to provide value right as a trusted advisor to our organizations. So why is it that often we are not viewed that way by others.

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And so what I want you to do is if you’re taking notes with this. I want you to go ahead and draw out a two by two matrix. Okay, so, so two along the horizontal two along the vertical access

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Now what I’m going to what I’m going to talk about now is just kind of walking you through. And we’re going to kind of build this little bit of a model.

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Like I said that I’m developing and will be issued here in a little while. So the words may change. And obviously, some of the details and everything will be different when you see this resource in the future.

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But I just want to talk through with you today. Now, if you look at, or think about this matrix in the bottom left quadrant right

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Right. The word ignored. So I know a lot of people end up feeling ignored and that’s kind of this bottom lower left quadrant.

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And I’m going to explain why you may feel frustrated. Okay, in the in the box to the right of that. So the lower but to but to the right. Right. Popular

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Okay, so we’ve got ignored and we’ve got popular now across the top. The two matrix or the, the two boxes on the top above the word ignored. I want you to write the word frustrated

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Okay, so that’s that’s to the left and up is frustrated and up into the right is where you will will put in trusted advisor. So our goal is ultimately to get to that trusted advisor status status, up in the upper right corner right where we where we really want to try to get to

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But as you think about it, we all end up usually falling into one of these four quadrants. So one of the first questions for you to think about is

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Well, do you feel frustrated do you feel ignored. Do you feel kind of like you’re popular and that’s it’s a word, though the word popular means

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People like you. They’re, they’re friendly with you. They invite you to things, but maybe they don’t necessarily think you know what you’re talking about. Okay.

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And then obviously the trusted advisor status. So now you’ve got this box has got frustrated trusted advisor ignored and popular on it. So what are the things

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That help you move from either being frustrated ignored or popular to the trusted advisor.

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This is where we’re going to add in what each of those matrix or what what each of those axis means, right. So the x axis is the horizontal

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And the Y axis is the vertical. So let’s talk first about the vertical axis. So there you can write down

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Some different words and I’m going to try to explain what this means, but effectively your vertical access

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Is your technical skills. Okay, so its technical skills on the vertical axis.

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And so that can be your experience, you know, the experience that you’ve had. You’ve worked for years as an auditor you’ve gained technical expertise.

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You have knowledge. Maybe you have certifications you’ve gone through, you understand how to be an auditor.

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Okay. And so that’s why if you think about the vertical axis. If you don’t have good technical skills, people are probably going to ignore you.

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If you have really good technical skills, you’re probably going to feel more frustrated if people are not doing or kind of responding to what you want would like them to do.

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Because you see this, but they don’t see this, they don’t understand the value that you can provide based on your technical expertise that you have

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Okay, so now on the horizontal axis, this is where I want you to write soft skills. Okay, so we’ve got technical skills on the vertical. We’ve got soft skills on the horizontal

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Now, soft skills are going to be these things around influence and you’ve heard me talk a lot about influence, because I think this is so important for us and actually learning how to influence people the right way.

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But it can also be other things like insight or the impact that we’re actually making in the organization or some other words that you can think about this.

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So in order for you to be a trusted advisor, you need to have both the technical and the soft skills, which means you have to know what you’re talking about.

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And that’s, you know, again, it could be certifications. It could be experience other other things like that but that you actually understand how to audit.

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But even more from a technical perspective, you don’t just know how to audit. But you understand some of these other technical areas and maybe things that relate to your business.

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Right, so other areas like you understand it, you have a basic understanding of it or maybe even intermediate. I mean, the further up you go in the organization.

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You understand risk management, you understand operations you understand finance right depending on what it is that you’re actually doing.

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So if you think about it, right. A lot of those technical skills are the things as an example that we see as topics on the certified internal auditor exams. Okay.

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Those are technical topic areas that you’re tested on in order to get your CI a certification. Now I help people.

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Pass the CPA exam, all the time helping to teach them some of those technical skills right

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And so, you know, again, one of the reasons why sometimes we feel frustrated is as we go through and we are developing our technical skills.

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We go through, we get certified. We have the experience we’ve done all these different things, but again there. People don’t really recognize that

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So as you develop your technical skills. That’s good. But that by itself will not help other people see you as a trusted advisor.

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And so again, one of the biggest mistakes that I see people making is I want to be a trusted advisor. I want to be a trusted advisor, how am I going to do that.

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I’m going to increase my technical skills. I’m going to get more technical skills. I’m going to go back to school. I’m going to get an extra degree.

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I’m going to get an extra certification. I’m going to going to going to and the full focus of that is on improving

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Their technical skills. So that’s why you can see that if you don’t have technical skills, you probably going to be ignored because people don’t think you have any idea what you’re talking about to begin with.

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But if you only are focusing on your technical skills. Again, you’re not going to be interacting with the others in the organization.

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The way that you should from a soft skill perspective, you’re not going to be using some of those influence techniques.

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And so the more experience and that you have and the more technical you become, the more frustrated you are

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Because you understand, you know, from a technical perspective what needs to happen, but other people in the organization are not helping you get it or they’re not seeing the value of it.

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And so that’s why you feel frustrated because you’re only focusing on the technical. Now if we talk about the influence the impact the soft skills on the bottom.

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What are some of those things that we’re talking about, those are going to be things like your communication skills.

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Now again, sometimes people think, well, communication skills we teach that in the CIA exam and everything else.

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Those are technical skills as well like grammar and other things like that. Well, okay, yeah. Part of that is probably technical

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But how you communicate is more of the soft skill, right, because there’s different ways to deliver the same message.

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And if you’re only trying to do it from a technical perspective, like, hey, I went and took a

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You know audit report writing course and the instructor told me step 12345 that I need to do. And as long as I do 1234 or five, then I’m going to be successful, all the time.

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And that isn’t the case because you’re communicating with different people all the time. And so the way you would communicate with one person.

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may work. But if you try to communicate the same way with a different person. You may fall flat on your face, because that is not how you need to communicate with them.

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So that’s why you know some of these things like emotional intelligence.

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Influence, those things are important so that you can actually understand psychology use psychology communication skills to be able to help you in influencing other people

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So if we go back to our matrix and look at it and I said, again, I’ve got this, this one the bottom right. One is called popular, at least for now because that’s the word I came up with today as I’m recording this.

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Those are auditors that people like they’re friendly right people like them. They like to hang out with them.

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They’re, they’re they’re they’re good communicators, but maybe they’re not that technical

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And so again, people like you. You’re popular but they don’t really think you know what you’re talking about.

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Okay, they liked being around you. You’re fun to be around, you can communicate well you know it’s it’s almost like kind of the slick politician, right.

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Perfect hair. Everybody loves them, they shake hands and and everybody feels great. But then you, you walk away kind of realizing, a lot of times there’s no substance.

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Or they really have no idea what they’re really talking about they’re telling you what you what they think you want them to hear

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And they don’t really stand for anything. They don’t have the technical expertise. They’re telling you they can do things, but then they can’t actually deliver on it.

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That’s the kind of what we have down there in that quadrant. So again, as people with great communication skills, let’s say,

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But they don’t actually have the technical skills or understanding and people catch that pretty quick. Right.

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You can start talking to somebody and all of a sudden the BS meter comes out. If people are like, all right. You’re nice, you’re a nice person, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Because you don’t understand my business. Now that is a term.

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Excuse me, you don’t understand my business. Okay. If you’re hearing you don’t understand my business, you’re probably either in the ignored.

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Or the popular box because your technical skills and understanding of their business of understanding their business is not there.

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And they can tell they know that you don’t understand their business. You may be a great auditor. But if you don’t understand their business. They’re not going to give you the credit for those technical skills.

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So that’s why I said again the technical skills as both how to audit, but also some of these other areas around your business, your industry.

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You know, other parts of the business like it risk management, some of those other things. Okay, so

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How do we end up getting to the trusted advisor status. Well, you have to figure out where are you at right now.

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And figure out which of these four boxes are you in. Okay. And then you can start to make a plan for how to move to that upper right quadrant where it’s trusted advisor status.

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So if you’re down in the popular area, people like you. You’re a good communicator, but they really don’t probably trust you, or think that you understand the business or understand how to audit.

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Okay, now you know you’re good on the soft skills you’ve got to develop more technical skills. If you find yourself you know either being in that ignored area.

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Right down in the bottom left quadrant. That means you need to work on both. You’ve got to work both on your soft skills and on your technical skills.

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If you’re up in the frustrated area. So you’re very good technically, but you’re just not getting stuff done, you’re frustrated

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In order to move over to trusted advisor status. You’ve got to work on your soft skills. Okay. And again, the soft skills are one of those areas that we don’t spend enough time working on

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We spend lots and lots of time hours years developing our technical skills, but most people ignore the soft skills or they lie to themselves and think, well, I’m a good communicator.

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When they have trouble communicating with other people. Okay, so that’s kind of the matrix side of it, how you can look at and determine where are you at

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And like I said, the title of this is why most auditors are not trusted advisors.

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I would say that probably at least 80% of the auditors out there do not fall into the trusted advisor status there in one of these other three buckets.

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So chances are there’s things that you can do to improve. You just got to first stop and be honest with yourself and then figure out a game plan for how you can move forward.

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So let me now give you, you know, some some different questions that you can ask yourself, right, because these are some of the kind of questions that I would use when I’m coaching a chief audit executive as an example.

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Or some of the concepts that we talked about in the chief audit executive forum, you know, a group of just chief out of executives where we’re working, actually, to help them.

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Improve their executive presence and move them to trusted advisor status. So we’re talking about some of these things that need to be there.

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We’re sharing experiences with each other on you know what’s worked, what hasn’t worked

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So that people can because, again, the goal is to move you improve your executive presence and get you to that trusted advisor status if your chief audit executive right

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So here’s some of the questions that you can go through and actually kind of think about to determine where are you at kind of right now. And this process.

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And again, this whole thing is a process, you are moving for either forward or backwards in your career by how what you are choosing to do and where you’re choosing to invest your time and your money. Okay.

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So one of the questions you can ask is, Is management coming to you to ask for help.

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Okay, we are using the one going to management and saying, Hey, you know, we’re auditing your area. Now, okay, but are his management actually coming to you and asking for help.

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If they’re not coming to you and asking for help, they don’t view you as a trusted advisor.

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Okay, if they are regularly coming to you, you know, if you send a message to the CEO and say, you know, hey, there’s something we need to talk about

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And then literally like 15 or 20 minutes later the CEOs knocking on your door because they came down from their office and are like, Hey, Jason.

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What’s going on, what do you need, what do you need that shows that for that person you have that trusted advisor status. Right.

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If you send them an email. They ignore you. They ignore you. They ignore you. They don’t think you’re a trusted advisor. So there’s something that you need to work on.

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Another one, you can look at. Right. Are you receiving the support and the budget that you need.

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Now again, there’s there’s finite resources every organization has to decide where to spend their money. But if you’re always finding that you’re fighting for everything that you have to do in your budget.

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And you’re just not getting what you need, you know, your company’s not giving you a training budget to be able to get trained

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They’re not, you know, doing whatever right and it feels like you’re always fighting for everything that you get

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Chances are they don’t view you as a trusted advisor who is providing an impact to the organization.

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If they did, they would invest in you and in your department more because they can see a return

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And so if they’re not seeing a return. They don’t think you’re having the impact that you’re necessary you become a necessary evil. Oh, we have to have an internal audit group.

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So there we go, let’s pay him as little as we have to limit the amount of investment because we know we’re not really getting any value, but we have to tell people, we have an audit group. Okay.

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If you’re going through that kind of thing. And having to fight for everything you’re probably not in that trusted advisor status. OK.

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Next one is management pushing back on many of your recommendations. So as you go out there, you do an audit, you know, and again, depending on what you call them.

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Recommendations issues findings, whatever that end up coming out of your Otter report.

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Is management, are they taking those and then like quickly implementing them and saying, Oh my gosh, Jason. Thank you. We didn’t even see that coming.

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Or are they pushing back on all the things. Oh, we really don’t need to do that.

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Or they’re being passive aggressive. Oh yeah, we’ll get to that right and and they they tell you all the things that you want to hear.

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You go away. You come back to follow up six months or a year later and they’ve done nothing. They just effectively ignored, you

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So ask yourself that question as well. If they’re pushing back significantly on many of your recommendations, they probably don’t think that you’re providing value and insight to the organization. They don’t see you as a trusted advisor. Okay, so

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That’s some of the information today. Now I know again. Right. Some of you might take offense, like, well, why are most auditors not trusted advisors. What do you mean, Jason. This is what we’re trying to do.

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This is what we’re trying to do what I’m trying to give you are some practical things to help you actually move to that status.

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If you continue to do what most people are telling you to do for increasing your technical skills you’re never going to get

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To trusted advisor status and I talked to people all the time that are very frustrated and they can’t figure out what is going on.

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And the reason is they’ve spent all their time on their technical skills and very, very little, if any, on their soft skills.

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And as a result, they will never get to trusted advisor status. The same thing if you’re great. In the soft skills, but you don’t have the technical skills to back it up.

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You’re never going to get to the trusted advisor status, either. Now I know that seems a little doom and gloom and I don’t want to insert it that way but

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I’m the kind of person that will say the things you need to hear instead of the things you want to hear because my goal is to actually help you improve

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I want Internal Auditors to get to the trusted advisor status. I want chief out of the executives to really be seen

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As a C level executive in organizations not somebody who’s frustrated somebody who’s ignored, but somebody who is a valuable part of the executive team.

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That has that executive presence and is seen as a trusted advisor. And the reason I’m telling you this is because to get there. You’re going to have to do some things different.

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Than most people are telling you. And that’s just the reality. Now here’s the good news is, once you know where you are and where you want to go.

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It’s easy to make a plan and figure out how to get there. Right. So if you need help on the technical skills. There’s trainings that you can go to

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If you need help on the soft skills, you know, there’s some trainings, you can go to. But honestly, a lot of the soft skills.

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Are developed through other higher level programs, things like the chief audit executive forum where you’re actually

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You know, practicing and working one on one, sometimes with people to be able to help you get to that point.

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It’s it’s understanding the psychology and everything else that goes in it. So if you know where you are and if you’re honest about about where you’re currently at

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And where you want to go, you know, again, go back and listen to this again because it’s going to give you a little pathway.

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For you to know what you need to improve on to be able to ultimately get to trusted advisor status. So again, even though. Like I said, I’m seeing that most auditors are not viewed as trusted advisors.

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I want you to be a trusted advisor. I want you to get to that point. And here’s kind of a pathway forward or at least a little jarring.

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Of you to kind of wake up a little bit and think about what you really need to do to improve. Now I know a 2030 minute podcast doesn’t give you all the answers.

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And so again, that’s why I’m coming up with some resources that we’re working on right now. That will be able that I’m going to share out with people as well so that you can actually have more tangible, practical things to do in really kind of walk through and know how to do that.

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So those are coming. So hold on to the head that that is coming

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Or if you’re at the chief audit executive level and you’re ready to make that next investment and kind of move forward and realize, hey, I do have some work that I need to do.

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And I need the help of other people. That’s what the chief audit executive forum is about and actually currently at this time, you know,

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Depending on when you’re listening to this, but open enrollment is is now for new members coming into the chief audit executive forum, we only let new members in a few times a year.

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But enrollment or we’re accepting applications for membership. So it’s a whole application and interview process, but we’re accepting applications right now through

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Friday, September 13 so if you’re listening to this before Friday, September 13th, make sure and check the show notes below because I’ll leave a link

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For those of you that are interested in that. So you can go out, check it out and put in your application before the 13th.

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If not, there’s a there’s a way to get on the waiting list. So next time we open it up, you’ll know about it and I’ll let you know. But this current open enrollment period closes on Friday the 13th of September. So with that, my friends.

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Let’s go out and start doing what we need to do, do the hard work and and really move ourselves forward to becoming a trusted advisor in your organization.

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I cannot tell you how satisfying. It is to feel like we are really providing value to our organizations and and get that acknowledgement from other people, and I want that for all of you.

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So go out there and Keep on rocking the audit world and I will catch you on the next episode of jam and with Jason. Bye.

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