Strategies for dealing with mandatory audit firm rotation as proposed by accounting professionals in KwaZulu-Natal.
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On 1 June 2017, the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (IRBA) approved the implementation of mandatory audit firm rotation (MAFR) for all Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies. The IRBA is of the opinion that MAFR will increase audit quality, improve auditor independence, increase market competition, and increase the rate of transformation in the profession. The auditing and accounting professions have met this announcement with sustained resistance, with the charge being led by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). Among the arguments of those who oppose the implementation are the perceived large costs that are incurred to on-board a new audit firm, the decreased institutional intelligence of the client by the new audit firm, and the loss of a strong working relationship between auditor and audit client. Many believe that the large audit firms stand to benefit significantly from the implementation of MAFR. This is mainly because audit clients will tend only to select large audit firms to perform their audit. The smaller market will have an increased audit firm rotation rate (turnover), meaning that large audit firms will also be able to target small audit clients. It is feared that these factors will concentrate the market further. This study aimed to provide insight into the key role-players and factors from the viewpoint of accounting professionals. The study utilised a grounded theory methodology, in the form of in-depth interviews with audit profession and industry experts. The results provide evidence of what accounting professionals think will lead to success once MAFR is implemented. This study is unique in South Africa as it surveyed auditors and audit clients. Although not a key aim, this study also sought to shed light on the perceived challenges that are facing the auditing profession in relation to the implementation of MAFR.