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Opening Address by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance, at The National Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) 2021 International Conference, on Monday, 14 June 2021

14 Jun 2021

Ms. Jenitha John, Chairman 2020 to 2021 of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Global Board of Directors,

Mr. Anthony Pugliese, President and CEO of the IIA,

Mr. Koh Chin Beng, President of the IIA Singapore,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak at the Institute of Internal Auditors Annual International Conference. 

2. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Scaling New Heights’. Some may think that this is a bit of a stretch target given the current economic backdrop:

a. unprecedented business disruptions; 
b. rise in unemployment rates and worsening recessions; and
c. many changes compressed into a very short time.

3. However, the current situation also presents new opportunities and has forced businesses and individuals to adapt and transform, thus opening the way to scaling new heights, provided we are open and responsive to change.

4. As Charles Darwin noted, “It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” 

Driving forces of change 

5. There are two driving forces of change for the internal audit industry – (a) the evolving risk landscape and (b) digitalisation. 

6. Let me start with the shifting risk landscape. 

7. Covid-19 has re-prioritised risks and increased the level of uncertainty for businesses.

8. Strong corporate governance is key to effective risk management. I am therefore glad that IIA Singapore is collaborating with the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) to raise the governance standards of listed companies.

9. The complex risk landscape has also led to increasing demand and pressure on the internal audit function to help businesses enhance their risk management, internal controls and governance processes.

10. Given the in-depth organizational knowledge and skill sets of internal auditors, the internal audit function is crucial in helping businesses better manage their risks. 

11. I would like to encourage more companies to adopt the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, to uphold the increasing responsibilities of the internal audit function. 

12. Let me now address the second driver of change - digitalisation. 

13. We are all familiar with the buzz words - robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning capabilities and big data analytics. 

14. In today’s world, digital transformation permeates all aspects of a business, including the internal audit function. 

15. I am heartened to hear of internal auditors who actively drive and contribute to digital transformation in their organisations. One example is Mr Tan, current Vice President of Internal Audit in GIC Singapore, who attended a course on basic artificial intelligence and data application skills in Python in 2018. After the course, he was able to:

a. Develop automated continuous audit test scripts to cover 100% of the population; and

b. Apply machine learning techniques to identify anomalies, such as in the behaviour of portfolio managers and SWIFT payments.  

16. But digital transformation can also introduce new risks, including data governance, cybersecurity, and privacy-related risks. 

a. Internal auditors need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to be able to consider and assess these new risks. 

Upskilling to be future-ready

17. With the evolving risk landscape and digitalisation, internal auditors must develop and grow to meet the increasing stakeholder expectations and demands. 

18. I am heartened to know that IIA Singapore has taken the lead in upskilling and preparing internal auditors to be future-ready through partnerships with the Government, Institutes of Higher Learning and other like-minded professional bodies.

19. Let me highlight a few key initiatives that will be useful to practitioners as we embark on this journey of change together. 

a. On the digitalization front, IIA Singapore collaborates with polytechnics and ISACA Singapore Chapter[1]. They work together to conduct hands-on workshop on key topics, such as data analytics and robotic process automation, targeted at all internal auditors. 

i. This is aligned with the Accountancy Industry Transformation Map, the aim of which is to develop Singapore into a leading global accountancy hub by enhancing practitioners’ skills and boosting their productivity. 

b. IIA Singapore also offers support through the development of a training roadmap in conjunction with SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC). The roadmap seeks to help internal auditors identify skills gaps and raise awareness of the training opportunities available to close these gaps. 

c. For those who are looking to earn the title of a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) through an expedited route, IIA Singapore collaborates with the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) to offer ISCA members an opportunity to enrol in a one-part CIA Challenge Exam. 

d. Mid-career PMETs aspiring to enter the internal audit profession will be happy to learn about the Professional Conversion Programme for Internal Auditors, launched by the IIA Singapore in collaboration with WSG and SAC. All trainees under the programme are given opportunities to undergo facilitated and on-the-job training.

20. I encourage all of you to leverage the support available to pursue lifelong learning and stay updated on the latest developments in the internal audit field. 


21. Change will only get faster. It is crucial that we remain adaptable and be always prepared for changes. We are making good progress but there is no room for complacency. 

22. I encourage you to use this conference to discuss how your work will continue to evolve and how you can turn challenges into opportunities and scale new heights.  

23. Thank you very much, and have a fruitful conference ahead. 


[1] ISACA Singapore Chapter is a non-profit association that aims to promote information systems auditing and governance.