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Eliminating seasonality could be a quantum leap for audit quality

Robert Conway | January 30, 2018

A Trinity University study published in December 2014 notes that during the busy season, auditors at the Big Four auditing firms work (on average) 20 hours per week above the threshold at which they believe audit quality begins to deteriorate. The study goes on to say, “We find that auditors perceive workload fatigue as having the largest negative impact on morale … [with] understaffing and staff turnover being two of the biggest impediments to delivering a high-quality audit … Our findings provide support for the PCAOB’s concern that excessive workloads could be a “root cause” of audit deficiencies … ”

The heavy workloads have a ripple effect on the public accounting business model. Heavy workloads cause high turnover that drives down staff experience levels. Compounding matters, the Big Four business model for...

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