The market premium for audit partners with big 4 experience

Aleksandra B. Zimmerman, Kenneth L. Bills, Monika Causholli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study investigates how non-Big 4 firm audit partners’ Big 4 experience is valued by the audit market. The Big 4 audit firms have differentiated themselves as nationally recognized firms for whose services companies are willing to pay a premium. It is unclear, however, whether this reputation follows individual auditors when they move to a non-Big 4 audit firm. We find that audit fees are higher for non-Big 4 audit partners with Big 4 experience with the fee premium ranging from 17 to 26 percent depending on the extent of experience when they are employed by small audit firms but find no evidence of a fee premium for Big 4 experience at the second-tier audit firms. Furthermore, in additional analyses, we do not find strong, consistent evidence that audit quality is higher for clients of non-Big 4 audit partners with Big 4 experience than their counterparts without Big 4 experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-217
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting Horizons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, American Accounting Association. All rights reserved.


  • Audit fees
  • Audit partners
  • Audit quality
  • Auditor reputation
  • Big 4 experience
  • Non-Big 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting


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