FERF’S 13th Annual Public Company Audit Fee Study Reveals SPAC, Acquisitions and Organizational Structure Changes Increased Audit Scope and Fees

Share Article

Overall, average audit fees increased by a slight 2.5 percent from 2020 to 2021

“The past year delivered an influx of organizational change due to newer work models as well as M&As among other factors. However, it seems the audit function has been able to stay the course with minimal external cost increases on average,” said Andrej Suskavcevic, CAE, Pres. & CEO of FEI and FERF.

The Financial Education & Research Foundation (FERF)—the independent non-profit research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI)—today released the findings of its 13th Annual Public Company Audit Fee Study. The Study looks at various factors affecting financial reporting and external audits. This includes value derived from external audits; auditor insights; process efficiencies for public company preparers; and key factors driving audit fee changes.

Overall, average audit fees increased by a slight 2.5 percent from 2020 to 2021. Expanded scope was cited as the primary reason as stated by 53 percent of member company respondents. Logically, respondents noted that audit management and audit team efforts also increased. The fee, scope, and effort increases were driven by a variety of factors to include acquisitions, organizational structure changes, and ICFR changes not related to the hybrid work environment among others.

Beyond existing filers, the Study shows that a significant influx of companies that entered the capital markets through Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) and IPOs continued to influence the overall audit marketplace.

Notably, audits continue to be vital to capital markets. Whether on-site, hybrid, or fully remote, public companies and their auditors worked diligently to maintain a standard of high-quality financial reporting and auditing. Key areas of focus for these parties continue to be effective communication and financial reporting/audit process innovation—particularly when considering how these factors impact high-quality audits in increasingly more complex business environments.

Technology Innovation Impact
Forty-nine percent of public company respondents stated that the use of data analytics and emerging technologies improved the quality of their audit. Many audit teams have begun leveraging innovative data analytics and tools to support risk assessment procedures; to increase audit procedure precision; and to introduce more unpredictability into testing.

Cloud-based tools are used for data collection as well as population testing in lieu of conventional audit sampling methods. The cloud approach can reduce manual steps required—steps typically executed by preparers—resulting in a better preparer experience.

Auditors also more readily engage data specialists to develop tailored analytics and tools to evaluate audit evidence. The results of these technological advancements give auditors the ability to perform more targeted audit procedures in areas that present higher risk, driving up overall audit quality.

Audit Fee Study Table of Contents
The Study addresses the above and related research to include:

  • Section 1: Value of The Audit
  • Section 2: Audit Fee Marketplace
  • Section 3: What Is Driving the Changes in Audit Fees
  • Section 4: Observations on Financial Reporting and External Audits in The Hybrid Environment
  • Section 5: ESG-Related Reporting and The External Audit
  • Section 6: Other Hot Topics in Financial Reporting

“Year over year, we continue to see public companies and their external auditors flex with the constant changes our business environments experience. The past year delivered an influx of organizational change due to newer work models as well as M&As among other factors. However, it seems the audit function has been able to stay the course with minimal external cost increases on average,” said Andrej Suskavcevic, CAE, President and CEO of Financial Executives International and Financial Education & Research Foundation. “This suggests that perhaps the intensity of the challenges they face may be lessening or, at least, reverting to more traditional issues as opposed to new and unknown ones such as those caused by the pandemic.”

Methodology and Sources
The FERF 2021 Public Company Audit Fee Study Report examines audit fees companies paid to external auditors for auditing and related services for the period between June 2021 and May 2022. The report is based on responses from more than 55 financial executives at public companies and an additional survey of 99 audit engagement partners. In addition, the report also examines audit fees as reported by nearly 6,900 SEC filers.

Audit fee information obtained from SEC filings was provided by idaciti. The survey was sponsored by the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), an organization dedicated to promoting high-quality performance by U.S. public company auditors and advancing the discussion of critical issues affecting investor trust in the U.S. capital markets. The CAQ also contributed to this the report by conducting a survey of audit engagement partners.
The 13th Annual Public Company Audit Fee Study Report can be obtained by visiting the online FERF bookstore at http://www.financialexecutives.org/research.

# # #

About Financial Education & Research Foundation, Inc.
Financial Education & Research Foundation (FERF) is the non-profit 501(c)(3) research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI). FERF researchers identify key financial issues and develop impartial, timely research reports for FEI members and nonmembers alike, in a variety of publication formats. FERF relies primarily on voluntary tax-deductible contributions from corporations and individuals, and publications can be ordered by logging onto http://www.financialexecutives.org/research.

About FEI
Financial Executives International (FEI) is the leading association and advocate for the views of corporate financial management. Its members hold policy-making positions as chief financial officers, chief accounting officers, controllers, treasurers, and tax executives at companies in every major industry. FEI enhances Member professional development through peer networking, career management services, conferences, research, and publications. Members participate in the activities of local Chapters in the U.S. FEI is located in Morristown, NJ. Visit http://www.financialexecutives.org for more information.

About idaciti
idaciti was founded by a team passionate about financial analysis and reporting who wanted to provide financial professionals with a modern software solution to solve their biggest challenges. The company founders realized that financial professionals needed a tool to make accessing, analyzing and visualizing financial and non-financial data easier and more intuitive. By using XBRL to parse public records, idaciti is able to provide this data and then makes it possible for users to visualize the data they discover on the platform to build clear and compelling reports.

For more details visit us at http://www.idaciti.com.

About the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ)
The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) is a nonpartisan public policy organization serving as the voice of U.S. public company auditors and matters related to the audits of public companies. The CAQ promotes high-quality performance by U.S. public company auditors; convenes capital market stakeholders to advance the discussion of critical issues affecting audit quality, U.S. public company reporting, and investor trust in the capital markets; and using independent research and analyses, champions policies and standards that bolster and support the effectiveness and responsiveness of U.S. public company auditors and audits to dynamic market conditions.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Lili DeVita
FEI
973.765.1021
Email >

Claudine Cornelis
Visit website

Media