In this thesis, the overall question is: "To what challenges is the auditor's independence exposed in a market where prices are decreasing while requirements of quality are increasing?". This question and the related sub-questions have been answered on the basis of the stated method and delimitation. Even though the auditor's independence is subject to comprehensive regulation, it was determined on the basis of the agent theory that a Danish appointed auditor is not de facto independent of the management as a result of coincidence of the principal and the agent when appointing the auditor. It has also been determined that in order to render the same quality as before in a market with declining fees, the auditors have attempted to improve the efficiency of the audit. This has been done, among other things, by improved utilization of IT tools in the audit process by which assurance has been obtained faster as to larger amounts of data for the use in the audit opinion. Also, the auditors have introduced a checklist system for ensuring that all audit procedures have been performed. However, the latter has proven to lower the audit quality as the low fees do not to the same extent as before leave room for training and assistance of junior employees which means that errors occur during the audit process that are not detected by managing employees. Also, it has been found that the intensive competition in terms of price on the market has resulted in low fees that leave no room for detecting errors during the audit. Also, prominent auditors have publicly said that the audit assignment is considered giving access to a client relationship which earns them a profit by rendering non-audit services. However, it has been shown that auditors have also historically contemplated the total client fee in their audit proposal. As a result of the fierce competition in terms price on the audit market, this practice seems to make the profitability in the client relationship depend predominantly upon non-audit services. Accordingly, the auditor's independence is challenged from the very appointment as the auditor is no longer independent of the management. The high pressure on prices in the market has therefore caused the auditor to be working far more efficiently than previously and that the auditor no longer has the same amount of time available to train employees and look deeper into stated irregularities. Also, the auditor is challenged by the clients' limited insight in the auditor's work which means that the additional price of high-quality audit is not corresponded by lower price of lower quality audit.
|Uddannelser||Cand.merc.aud Regnskab og Revision, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling|