We examine whether Deloitte's spatial location in local audit markets affected the firm's adverse fallout—in terms of decreased ability to retain new clients and maintain audit fees—from the 2007 PCAOB censure. We motivate our inquiry by the notion that auditor-client alignment and auditor-closest-competitor distance can help differentiate the incumbent Big 4 auditor from other Big 4 auditors and thus provide market power, i.e., inhibit clients from shopping for another supplier because of the lack of a similar Big 4 provider in the local audit market. Consequently, it seems reasonable that the increase in switching risk and loss of fee growth suffered by Deloitte following the 2007 PCAOB censure will be lower in local markets where Deloitte was the market leader and its market share distance from its closest competitor was greater. Our findings suggest that the decline in Deloitte's audit fee growth rate following the 2007 PCAOB censure was concentrated in the pharmaceutical industry, although the client loss rate appears to have occurred more broadly (across all cities and industries). Collectively, our findings suggest that audit quality issues override auditor market power, i.e., differentiation does not provide Big 4 firms market power in the face of adverse regulatory action.

JEL Classifications: G18; L51; M42; M49.

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