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    Audit Partner Tenure and Audit Planning and Pricing.
    research summary posted October 20, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 10.0 Engagement Management, 10.06 Audit Fees and Fee Negotiations, 15.0 International Matters, 15.03 Audit Partner Rotation 
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    Title:
    Audit Partner Tenure and Audit Planning and Pricing.
    Practical Implications:

    This study provides the first evidence using U.S. data on the relationships between audit planning and pricing and audit partner tenure. Importantly, the results speak to the requirement in SOX Section 203 that audit partners on public clients rotate every five years. The second set of results concerns changes in auditor risk responsiveness during the period 2002 to 2003. Because there are very few longitudinal studies of engagement effort that feature a consistent sample of clients over time, this study contributes to understanding of changes in audit firms’ risk responsiveness.

    Citation:

    Bedard, J. C., and K. M. Johnstone. 2010. Audit Partner Tenure and Audit Planning and Pricing. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 29 (2): 45-70.

    Keywords:
    audit effort, audit partner tenure, audit pricing, risk management, rotation
    Purpose of the Study:

    This paper investigates the association between audit engagement partner tenure and audit planning and pricing. Limitations on partner tenure for public company engagements exist in many developed countries. For instance, in the U.S., the AICPA’s SEC Practice Section has long had a professional requirement that audit partners of public clients be rotated at least once every seven years. Section 203 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) codifies a partner tenure limitation for public companies into law, and reduces the period to five years. Proponents of frequent partner rotation argue that the auditor’s independence and objectivity suffer from long tenure with the client, which may result in lower audit quality, and that the fresh perspective of a new partner is thereby beneficial. However, many in the auditing profession maintain that mandatory partner rotation causes unnecessary costs, and may in fact impair audit quality. This position is derived from concerns that while client information is stored in the workpapers, each new engagement partner faces a certain amount of information asymmetry due to less history of client interaction.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The data includes client characteristics and plans for audit engagements of publicly traded companies to be conducted during 2002 and 2003, gathered by the participating audit firm in support of its client continuance decisions. The final sample size is well over 500. The models consider 20022003 risk assessments and audit planning/pricing decisions for the firm’s continuing public clients in 2002, i.e., those that the firm audited in 2001 and prior years.

    Findings:
    • The level of planned effort does not differ for clients having longer versus shorter tenure partners.
    • Engagements with longer partner tenure have significantly higher realization rates, suggesting that client demand for services of those partners and associated reduction in fee pressure enables a greater return on their engagements.
    • Results reveal that relative to the prior year engagement of the client, audit effort increases in the year of the partner change.
    • Planned realization rates decline in the year of the partner rotation.
    • In combination, the results suggest that tightening the term of mandatory partner rotation from seven to five years removes a service valued by clients.
    • Levels of risks related to financial reporting quality, management integrity, and internal controls are positively associated with the levels of planned effort in 2002.
    • Changes in assessments of financial reporting risk, management integrity risk and internal control risk are positively associated with changes in planned effort from 2002 to 2003.
    • Overall, the authors conclude that from 2002–2003, the firm’s risk response was strong in 2002, and further increased in 2003. This change was more predominant in effort rather than unit pricing, which has positive implications for audit quality.
    Category:
    Engagement Management, International Matters
    Sub-category:
    Audit Fees & Fee Negotiations, Audit Partner Rotation