Santa Claus: The Internal Auditor?

Santa Claus The Internal Auditor

I didn’t realize until now that Santa Claus and I share a profession.

If you’re like me (which if you’re in the internal audit profession, odds are you’re at least a little like me) you often get asked “what do you do for a living?” As many of you know, the conversation goes something like this.

    Them:  Steve, what do you do for a living?
    Me:  I’m an internal auditor.

    Them:  A what?
    Me:  I’m an internal auditor.

    Them:  Oh, you’re an accountant.


We’ve all had the same conversation, over and over. Why doesn’t it ever get easier?

Well, it just has….


I started thinking about the song: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and the answer hit me. Children around the world have to adhere to a system of internal controls (rules) created by management (they’re parents). Parents set rules. The rules are designed to prevent unacceptable behavior (preventative controls). The rules are designed to detect unacceptable behavior (detective controls). The rules (controls) are designed with the best intentions (design effectiveness). The rules (controls) have to operate as they are designed (operating effectiveness). From an audit perspective it could look something like this:

  • Risk: Unhealthy Eating Habits
  • Control Objective: Make sure kids eat a balanced diet that includes vegetables
  • Control: Eat your vegetables
  • Control Test: Did the child eat the peas with dinner or are the peas hidden under the edge of the plate?

An internal auditor will come up with an audit plan to test the control. The plan will include time period that is within scope and the sample size that will be tested. For example, 1 year of meals and random sampling of 25 meals. The control effectiveness will be determined by the test results.


Back to the song.

    “He’s making a list”

      i.e. Creating his audit plan.


    “He’s checking it twice.”

      i.e. Reviewing the audit plan to make sure it will meet the audit objective.


    “He’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice.”

      i.e. Conducting the audit to identify controls that are deficient and controls that are effective.


    “Santa Claus is coming to town.”

      i.e. Issuing a final opinion on control effectiveness.


That is when it occurred to me that while Santa Claus is a jolly old elf who delivers presents to children around the world, he also an internal auditor. I always wondered what he did the other 364 days of the year. So now the conversation is going to go something like this:

    Them:   Steve, what do you do for a living?

    Me:   I’m Santa Claus


Happy Holidays to you and your family! Here’s to wishing you the gifts of the season — Peace, Joy, Hope. May you soar into the new year filled with health, happiness and prosperity.


This blog post was authored by Steven Randall. Steve is a Managing Partner with Vonya Global, a premier provider of internal audit co-sourcing, outsourcing, and consulting services; a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Chicago Chapter Board of Governors; a Director of the Adler-Caris Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to raising funds for Alzheimer’s Disease research; the President of the Oz Park Baseball Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing fundamental based baseball in a safe environment in the city of Chicago; and an Advisory Board Member of the Chicago Youth Baseball Initiative, a University of Illinois at Chicago community group dedicated to providing Chicago youth with the opportunity to play baseball in a fun and safe environment, while offering educational experiences on a world-class college campus. If you would like more information about Vonya Global or if you have a question for Steve, you may contact him through this blog, the company website, twitter, or his LinkedIn Profile.