SUMMARY: This paper investigates the association between audit engagement partner tenure and audit planning and pricing. Prior archival research from countries requiring partner signature on the audit opinion provides mixed results on the implications of partner tenure for audit quality. While variation in audit quality based on partner tenure implies some difference in the conduct of the engagement, prior research has not yet addressed whether engagement processes differ based on partner tenure. Using proprietary data from a large audit firm, we find that planned engagement effort increases following partner rotation, suggesting that new partners invest effort to gain client knowledge in the first year on the engagement. We also examine planned realization rates, finding them to be lower following partner rotation. This implies that new partners’ investments in client knowledge are not compensated by clients. We also find higher planned realization rates on audits having the same engagement partner for more than five years, a longer tenure than is now allowed for public companies following the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We obtain these results while controlling for client risks that affect audit planning and pricing, including those related to financial reporting, management integrity, and internal controls.

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