Working Paper: Which Audit Input Matters? An Analysis of the Determinants of Audit Quality, Profitability, and Audit Fees Using PCAOB Data

Paper Authors:  Daniel Aobdia, Preeti Choudhary and Noah Newberger

Abstract: We exploit proprietary data from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to analyze how a variety of characteristics regarding the composition of the audit and audit team are associated with audit quality measured via restatements and regulator-identified audit deficiencies. We find that more time spent prior to the final phase of the audit is associated with better audit quality, specifically when more time is spent by the core audit engagement team. We also decompose the time spent and experience characteristics of the core audit engagement team into the following roles: lead partner, engagement quality reviewer, and other experienced team members (comprised of other audit partners, directors, senior managers, and managers). We generally find that more time spent and more experience of experienced team members other than the lead partner are associated with better audit quality. Some of the characteristics that improve audit quality are costly to the client, but not necessarily to the audit firm. Overall, our analysis highlights several cost-benefit tradeoffs to improving audit quality.