The Client Acceptance and Retention Process: How Policies and Procedures Are Developed and Implemented Within Audit Firms
Parlier, Jennifer Ashley
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When developing client acceptance and retention policies and procedures, an audit firm's policy-makers are required to adhere to quality control and auditing standards established by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that are not well defined. As a result, the policies and procedures across firms may differ significantly. These differences arise from the development as well as the implementation of client acceptance and retention policies when evaluating prospective and continuing clients. My research study examines these differences in client acceptance and retention policies and procedures and also investigates the potential differences in policies and procedures across firms of different sizes (international, national, and regional). Using a qualitative setting, I interview risk management and local office partners across multiple firms to gather firm-specific and partner-specific information about client acceptance and retention policies and procedures. My results contribute to the existing literature on the processes and procedures developed by audit firms to assess and evaluate risks that may arise from prospective and/or continuing clients.
General Audience Abstract
Auditing standards provide requirements and recommendations for audit firms to follow when performing financial statement audits. These auditing standards also include both required and recommended procedures related to an audit firm’s decision to accept new clients and retain existing clients. Using a qualitative research methodology, I interview audit partners from five audit firms who are responsible for helping establish the firm-specific policies and procedures around client acceptance and client retention processes. I also interview partners from the same five audit firms who are responsible for performing those procedures when deciding whether to accept a prospective client or keep an existing client. I find that there are differences between the two partner groups as to the importance of certain client acceptance and client retention procedures. I also find that there are differences among the firms as well as the individual partners within each firm as to which procedures are key considerations in the client acceptance and retention processes.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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