The upward pressure on public companies’ audit fees seen in the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley seems to have subsided, with the average audit fees paid by public companies rising 2% in 2010, to $3.3 million, according to a survey by Financial Executives International.
That 2% rise in fees in 2010 followed a 2.4% decline in audit fees in 2009 and a 2.2% rise in 2008, according to FEI data. “It looks as if it’s going up and down,” says Bill Sinnett, director of research at Financial Executives Research Foundation.
The FEI survey shows private companies paid average audit fees of $222,300 last year, little changed from what they paid in 2009. FEI surveyed 98 public companies and 124 private companies.
The survey found that public company audits took an average of 12,540 hours and private company audits averaged 3,394 hours.
According to the survey, 83% of the public companies used Big Four auditors, vs. just 34% of the private companies.