SUMMARY

Using proprietary Australian Taxation Office (ATO) data, this study examines audit pricing, service bundling, and independence issues in the self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) sector, the fastest growing and largest segment of the Australian $2 trillion retirement savings industry. We consider the impact of partner-level scale effects for a large sample of SMSF audits for the three years to June 2010. After controlling for factors known to determine audit fees, we find evidence of fee discounting by partners with large client portfolios. However, when the dependent variable is redefined to the total “bundle” of services (including audit and non-audit fees), the firms of partners with larger client portfolios are shown to earn bundling fee premiums. This finding suggests industry specialists price strategically using audits as a conduit to supply higher margin non-audit services (NAS) to clients with more resources. Last, we find no evidence the supply of NAS impairs auditor independence, alleviating joint supply concerns raised in the Cooper Review.

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