Audit Partner Rotation and Financial Reporting Quality
Audit partner rotation has received considerable attention globally and in the U.S. since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 accelerated the rotation period from seven to five years and expanded the cooling-off period from two to five years. However, research on the effects of audit partner rotation on financial reporting quality in the U.S. is virtually non-existent, largely due to the absence of publicly available information on audit partners. Using a novel approach to determine audit partner rotation, we investigate the effect of rotation on financial reporting quality in the U.S. We find evidence of lower financial reporting quality following an audit partner change. Specifically, we find lower financial reporting quality during the first two years with a new audit partner relative to the final two years with the outgoing partner. We find the lower financial reporting quality to be more prevalent for larger clients. Further analyses suggest the initial year post-rotation presents audit challenges for Big 4 partners, which persist for at least three years for non-Big 4 partners. Audit challenges also appear greater for city-level non-industry specialist auditors and smaller audit offices. We discuss the implications of our results for regulators, policymakers, and the profession at large.