Audit Fees – One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

The on-line bible of the compliance world, Compliance Week, has a great update on audit fee trends. The spreadsheet that lays out audit fees paid by the Fortune 500 is worth the price of the subscription, unless you want to do your own research from SEC filings. (And there is a price of a subscription, unless you take advantage of a free trial subscription!)

An excerpt:

Audit Fee Increases Continue in ’06 By Melissa Klein Aguilar — September 5, 2007

The double-digit jumps in audit fees that hammered large public companies during their first two years of life under Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley appear to be a thing of the past but the drop in fees that companies had hoped to see in 2006 remains, apparently, a thing of the future.
Overall, audit fees among large companies rose incrementally in 2006, according a Compliance Week analysis of the fees paid to auditors by 445 Standard & Poor’s 500 companies. The median total fees paid to auditors last year was $6.7 million, up 5.6 percent from 2005. Median audit fees rose 7.2 percent to $5.4 million, and audit-related fees jumped 11.5 percent to $422,565.

The good news: Median tax fees fell 1 percent to $493,430, and median “other fees” plummeted by 25.5 percent to $31,000. Audit fees, however, comprised the vast majority of companies’ costs: median audit fees were 83.2 percent of median total fees paid last year.

While fees associated with the internal controls audit work required by Section 404 were blamed for sky-high audit fees during the first two years of compliance for accelerated filers, experts say 404-related costs did drop last year. The decreases, however, were offset by an increase in the hourly rates paid to external auditors…

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  1. […] This past year, total audit fees were $43.4 million, audit related fees were an additional 3.3 million and tax fees were 2.6 million. In addition, they made $19.2 million more by providing services to merchant banking and other funds managed by Goldman Sachs subsidiaries. All of these fees were for audit and tax services. By comparison to prior years’ numbers, we can see that over the years, and like other large, complex, global companies, audit and related fees have grown substantially due to Sarbanes-Oxley. But the services to the Goldman Sachs funds have also been part of the package since almost the beginning and add a significant amount to PwC’s overall compensation. […]

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