## Die Prüfungshonorare branchenspezialisierter Wirtschaftsprüfer in der deutschen Versicherungsbranche

### Audit Fees of Industry Specialist Audit Partners in the German Insurance Industry

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-231746
• Trotz der immensen ökonomischen Bedeutung von Versicherungen für marktwirtschaftlich orientierte Volkswirtschaften haben sich bis dato nur wenige nationale und internationale Forschungsarbeiten dem Abschlussprüfermarkt für Versicherungsunternehmen gewidmet. Die vorliegende Arbeit hat sich dieser Thematik angenommen und liefert empirische Resultate bezüglich des Abschlussprüfermarktes für Versicherungsunternehmen in Deutschland. Neben einer detaillierten Strukturanalyse steht hierbei die Frage im Fokus, ob testierende Prüfungspartner, welche inTrotz der immensen ökonomischen Bedeutung von Versicherungen für marktwirtschaftlich orientierte Volkswirtschaften haben sich bis dato nur wenige nationale und internationale Forschungsarbeiten dem Abschlussprüfermarkt für Versicherungsunternehmen gewidmet. Die vorliegende Arbeit hat sich dieser Thematik angenommen und liefert empirische Resultate bezüglich des Abschlussprüfermarktes für Versicherungsunternehmen in Deutschland. Neben einer detaillierten Strukturanalyse steht hierbei die Frage im Fokus, ob testierende Prüfungspartner, welche in Bezug auf die deutsche Versicherungsbranche einen hohen Spezialisierungsgrad aufweisen, die Höhe des erhobenen Prüfungshonorars beeinflussen. Dabei wird auch der Tatsache Rechnung getragen, dass in Deutschland gewöhnlich zwei Wirtschaftsprüfer (Links- und Rechtsunterzeichner) mit unterschiedlichen Aufgaben- und Verantwortungsbereichen den Jahres- bzw. den Konzernabschluss testieren. Die Resultate liefern Evidenz dafür, dass insbesondere Rechtsunterzeichner, denen entweder aufgrund ihres verhältnismäßig hohen Marktanteils bei Abschlussprüfungen in der Versicherungsbranche oder aufgrund ihrer Mitgliedschaft im IDW-Versicherungsfachausschuss ein hoher Spezialisierungsgrad zugesprochen wird, ökonomisch relevante Honoraraufschläge erzielen können.
• Despite the immense economic importance of insurances for market-oriented economies, so far only few national and international research studies have been focused on the audit market for insurance companies. This is remarkable because the audit plays a central role especially in the context of highly trust-based products such as insurances. This doctoral thesis has taken up this topic and provides empirical evidence regarding the audit market for insurance companies in Germany. In addition to a detailed market structure analysis and in lineDespite the immense economic importance of insurances for market-oriented economies, so far only few national and international research studies have been focused on the audit market for insurance companies. This is remarkable because the audit plays a central role especially in the context of highly trust-based products such as insurances. This doctoral thesis has taken up this topic and provides empirical evidence regarding the audit market for insurance companies in Germany. In addition to a detailed market structure analysis and in line with recent developments in empirical audit research, the thesis focuses on whether audit partners, who have a high degree of specialisation in the German insurance industry, influence the level of audit fees. The focus on the audit partner level is due to the fact that in reality it is not the appointed audit firm itself, but the audit partners and their teams in a particular office, who plan and perform the audit and issue the audit opinion. Therefore, the quality of an individual audit should depend significantly on the expertise of the audit partners involved and not solely on the appointed audit firm. Within an audit firm the expertise of different audit partners can vary significantly. This is because systems for sharing knowledge and distributing information within a firm, which are necessary for the harmonisation of quality-relevant expertises, cannot function to the full extent due to sometimes insurmountable obstacles. This implies that within an audit firm the quality of work among auditors differs. With regard to industry specialists it can be assumed that they provide a higher audit quality than non-specialised auditors. Especially in highly regulated and complex industries such as the insurance industry specialisation could be decisive for audit quality. In the sense of a product differentiation strategy under assumption of an appropriate demand this higher audit quality justifies that industry specialist audit partners achieve higher audit fees. However, in contrast it can be argued that the extensive sector knowledge gained through sector specialisation enables the generation of economies of scale in addition to higher audit quality. Assuming that these economies of scale are passed on to clients due to the prevailing competitive situation, a reduction of audit fees may arise – despite a higher audit quality. The aim of this dissertation is to find out whether these theoretical assumptions are empirically verifiable at the audit partner level in the German insurance industry. The fact that in Germany usually two audit partners (engagement partner and review partner) with different tasks and responsibilities sign the audit report is also taken into account. The engagement partner usually sets his signature on the lower right side of the audit report. He is responsible for planning and conducting the audit and eventually for expressing the audit opinion. The review partner typically signs the lower left side of the audit report. He is usually not actively involved in the planning and conducting of the audit. Instead, he often serves as a report critique. Due to these different tasks and responsibilities, it could be that, for example, the industry specialist engagement partner has a different relevance for the audit fee than the industry specialist review partner. In addition to a review of the national and international state of research regarding the influence of the audit partner level for audit quality and audit fees, the thesis provides a detailed structure analysis of the audit market for insurance companies in Germany for the years 2009 to 2013. The results show that at audit firm level the audit market is highly concentrated compared to other German industries (HHI always above 0.52). KPMG is market leader every year. With an annual market share above 70%, with exception of 2009, generated by 68 to 85 engagements KPMG clearly stands out from other audit firms. The structural analysis at the audit partner level points out that in each year more engagement partners (between 78 and 89) are active than review partners (between 43 and 51). As a result, a review partner audits on average significantly more financial statements than an engagement partner. In principle, this finding supports the assumption that an engagement partner has significantly more work to do with the audit of financial statements due to his responsibilities and duties than a review partner. In terms of the number of audit partners employed, KPMG is always in first place. Furthermore, it can be stated on the basis of the results that a few engagement and review partners serve a large part of the market. For these audit partners it can be assumed that they are highly specialised and therefore have a high level of industry-specific expertise. The subsequent empirical investigation of the influence of insurance industry specialist audit partners on the audit fee level is based on a data panel consisting of 760 observations from 171 insurance companies in Germany from the years 2009 to 2013. A total of seven different test variables are used to identify industry specialist audit partners. Six of them use the audit feebased market shares of audit partners; one of them is a dummy variable based on the membership in the IDW Insurance Expert Committee. The results of the regression analyses provide evidence that especially engagement partners, who are considered to have a high degree of specialisation due to their relatively high market share, can achieve economically relevant audit fee premiums. At the same time, the majority of the results suggest that in particular engagement partners sitting in the IDW Insurance Expert Committee earn higher audit fees. In contrast, for review partners specialised on the German insurance industry a significant influence on the audit fee level can only rarely be observed. In line with the results of previous research, this finding could be interpreted as an indication that an engagement partner is, due to his responsibilities and duties, of greater importance for the quality of an audit than a review partner. Insurance companies therefore predominantly reward only the specialist status of an engagement partner, as it is primarily the audit partner who embodies a higher (perceived) audit quality.

Author: Ulf Gunnar VölkerORCiD urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-231746 Doctoral Thesis Universität Würzburg, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät Prof. Dr. Hansrudi Lenz, Prof. Dr. Andrea Szczesny 2021/03/30 German 2021 1. Auflage Würzburg University Press Würzburg Studien zu Rechnungslegung, Steuerlehre und Controlling (6) 978-3-95826-156-3 978-3-95826-157-0 XXIV, 374 https://doi.org/10.25972/WUP-978-3-95826-157-0 3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 330 Wirtschaft Abschlussprüfer; Versicherungsbetrieb; Honorar Branchenspezialisierung; Prüfungsforschung; Prüfungshonorare; Prüfungspartner; Spezialisierung; Versicherungsunternehmen; Wirtschaftsprüfer 2021/11/30 Parallel erschienen als Druckausgabe in Würzburg University Press, 978-3-95826-156-3, 32,90 Euro. CC BY-SA: Creative-Commons-Lizenz: Namensnennung, Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 4.0 International