This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the UK audit market. It looks at the market structure in conjunction with decisive factors, considering the role of auditors and regulatory standards for statutory auditing. The analysis commences with the elucidation of auditing financial statements with regulatory
standards, including collation between standards, to comprehend the current
internationalization of accounting and influence on audit quality and audit market structure.
The UK audit market has been examined thoroughly in terms of the so called “Big Four’’ (PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG) audit market concentration, competition, auditor rotation, audit fee, and audit quality. Audit market concentration has been measured through the concentration ratio and the Herfindahl-Hirschmann Index, considering audit companies’ revenue to clarify market shares between Big Four companies and mid-tier firms.
In so doing, the two biggest accountancy firms, PwC and Deloitte, were also investigated to ascertain their influence on the market by assessing their last five years’ financial analysis to evaluate the future audit market concentration amid accountancy firms in the UK. Methods of analysis include comprehensive ratio analysis to measure liquidity, asset management, debt management and profitability. Pertinent elaborated calculations can be found in the appendices.
Results of data analysed demonstrate that the UK audit market is most concentrated with considerable barriers to entry and switching, since the Big Four have constant and high market share of FTSE companies. As is evident from the Deloitte and PwC’s ratio analysis results, they have consistent and robust positive indicators; so bridging the gap between midtier and Big Four companies would not be straightforward for the near future. Despite pessimistic results, some recommendations may alleviate this concentration:
The confusions of financial reporting and auditing standards resulting from the paucity of adaptation should be lessened.
Mandatory joint audit may be useful to reduce market concentration by signing off audit report and opinion by the each audit firm; on the condition that one joint auditor should be non-Big four companies.
Mandatory rotation should not be prolonged for more than fifteen years. At the same time, tendering should be in a transparent and veritable-based approach to achieve salutary results.
Companies should report transparently choice and investors should display persuasive motive in auditor choice.
Prudence and transparency should be controlled by the regulators for steering audit market, to attain stability of financial systems.
In terms of changing perception bias towards to mid-tier or small audit firms,
reputation should be improved through enhancing occupational skills, such as sector expertise, international network and excellence of staff.