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FTSE 350 use same auditor for an average of 11.3 years

FTSE 350 AUDIT business is rarely going out to tender, despite evidence that companies that switch auditors have achieved cheaper and better-quality audits.

Research carried out as part of the Competition Commission’s (pictured) inquiry into the statutory audits of FTSE 350 companies, which surveyed more than 600 CFOs, FDs and audit committee chairs, found little desire among respondents to change auditors.

According to the survey, FTSE 350 companies have used the same auditor for an average of 11.3 years, while 59% have not changed auditor for at least five years.

More than a third of companies were found to have used the same Big Four auditor for more than 11 years, with 14% using the same firm for more than 20 years.

However, in instances where companies had switched their auditor, more than half experienced a reduction in cost and 64% reported an improvement in audit quality.

When switches have been made, the Big Four has mopped up almost all of the business on offer. According to the research, 97% of all switches made by FTSE 350 companies in the last five years have been to or within the Big Four.

Reasons most likely to prompt a change in auditor included complacency of the audit firm, a substantial increase in audit fee or a problematic relationship between auditor and management. However, only 38% said a scandal related to their auditor would lead them to dispense with their auditor.

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