In this study, we examine whether increased financial flexibility afforded by the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) affects small accounting firms’ public audit client portfolio decisions. We find some evidence suggesting that accounting firms receiving PPP loans exhibit greater public audit client selectivity. Specifically, accounting firms receiving PPP loans exhibit an increased likelihood of auditor switching and engage new clients that exhibit less financial and auditor business risk but greater potential for profitability relative to departing clients. Relative to both departing and continuing clients, new clients of firms receiving PPP loans exhibit some evidence of lower audit risk. Collectively, the results provide some evidence to suggest that the increased financial flexibility afforded through the PPP loans provided smaller accounting firms an opportunity to selectively manage their public audit client portfolio.

Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources cited in the text.

JEL Classifications: M42; M48.

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