A survey of non-SEC registered companies with a turnover of over €1bn in 17 countries, says that 75% of them plan to invest more in internal control after seeing significant business benefits. However, many CFOs and heads of internal audit believe some internal controls are ineffective, with the biggest blind spots being controls over expansion into international markets, post-acquisition integration, and real estate and construction projects.

With international investors increasingly demanding more transparency and 'no surprises', an interesting point to note from the survey, which was conducted by Ernst & Young, is that 50% of respondents cite ‘positive influence over investor confidence’ as a key business driver for future investments in internal control. Other drivers focused mainly on enhancements to processes and the underlying control structure (89%) and better understanding of major risk areas (86%).

Analysis suggests that the perception of the status of internal control differs according to an individual's role. While 36% of CFOs in the survey say that their risk assessment covers operational and business areas, only 19% of heads of internal audit believe that these risk areas are assessed in their companies. Over one-third (35%) of respondents said their companies do not conduct an annual risk assessment.