Thursday, June 9, 2011

Auditor Relationship, Audit Fees, and Risk Management: FEI-FERF Report

Earlier today, results of the latest FEI Audit Fee Survey, conducted by FEI's research affiliate, the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), were released.

This year's survey, sponsored by NYSE-Euronext, was expanded as in recent years to include audit fees in total (i.e., not only Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404-related fees, which was the objective of the audit fee survey when first launched). Information on total audit fees is now the focus of the survey, since Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 fees are generally not broken out as much by auditors as in prior years, and have been blended into the integrated audit fee.

Public and Private Companies Surveyed
The survey results include results for both private and public companies, with results broken out within public companies for accelerated and nonaccelerated filers.

243 survey responses were received in total, representing executives from 98 U.S. publicly-held companies (consisting of 82 accelerated filers and 16 nonaccelerated filers), 124 U.S. privately-held companies, three foreign companies and 21 non-profit organizations.

Modest Changes In Audit Fees

  • Audit fees for public company accelerated filers increased by 2%, on average;

  • Audit fees for public company nonaccelerated filers increased by 3%, on average; and

  • Audit fees for private companies remained flat, on average.

Auditor Relationship

  • the relationship with auditors was rated ‘neutral to good’ on average by both public and private companies.

  • 21 years was the weighted average number of years of the client-auditor relationship for the public company survey respondents, compared with 8 years for the private company respondents
Note: see also our recent blog post, PCAOB To Consider Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation.

Risk Management
For the first time, the Audit Fee Survey included questions about risk management. Questions addressed such topics as whether survey respondents currently have a company-wide risk management process in place, rolled out to the whole company, or used at headquarters.

Read more in FEI's press release.
Access the full Audit Fee Survey report.

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