The Market Premium for Audit Partners with Big 4 Experience

Accounting Horizons, Forthcoming

47 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2017 Last revised: 28 Sep 2020

See all articles by Ally Zimmerman

Ally Zimmerman

Florida State University - Department of Accounting

Kenneth L. Bills

Michigan State University - Department of Accounting & Information Systems

Monika Causholli

University of Kentucky - Von Allmen School of Accountancy

Date Written: September 15, 2020

Abstract

This study investigates how non-Big 4 firm audit partners’ Big 4 experience is valued by the audit market. The Big 4 audit firms have differentiated themselves as nationally recognized firms for whose services companies are willing to pay a premium. It is unclear, however, whether this reputation follows individual auditors when they move to a non-Big 4 audit firm. We find that audit fees are higher for non-Big 4 audit partners with Big 4 experience with the fee premium ranging from 17 to 26 percent depending on the extent of experience when they are employed by small audit firms but find no evidence of a fee premium for Big 4 experience at the second-tier audit firms. Furthermore, in additional analyses, we do not find strong, consistent evidence that audit quality is higher for clients of non-Big 4 audit partners with Big 4 experience than their counterparts without Big 4 experience.

Keywords: auditor reputation, audit quality, audit fees, non-Big 4, Big 4 experience, audit partners

JEL Classification: M42

Suggested Citation

Zimmerman, Aleksandra and Bills, Kenneth L. and Causholli, Monika, The Market Premium for Audit Partners with Big 4 Experience (September 15, 2020). Accounting Horizons, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3084770 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3084770

Aleksandra Zimmerman (Contact Author)

Florida State University - Department of Accounting ( email )

Rovetta Business Bldg. (RBA)
College of Business
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1110
United States

Kenneth L. Bills

Michigan State University - Department of Accounting & Information Systems ( email )

270 North Business Complex
East Lansing, MI 48824-1034
United States

Monika Causholli

University of Kentucky - Von Allmen School of Accountancy ( email )

Lexington, KY 40506
United States

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