UK partners of Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and EY will groan at the advent of another inquiry into audit competition. They should stifle their sighs. More radical reform of audit is urgently needed given the continuing conflict between audit and nonaudit work, the weak oversight of auditors, and the glaring ineffectiveness of previous attempts to introduce more competition. Since 2013, when the UK Competition Commission completed its last report, there has been less change in the audit market than in UK antitrust regulation, which was transformed by the creation of the Competition and Markets Authority the same year. The authority has understood the need for urgency. Building on work done for previous inquiries, it has launched a “market study”, the swiftest investigation in its armoury, and promised provisional findings before Christmas. That is fast even by the standards of such studies. In theory, nothing is off the table. In the 40-page outline of its brief, though, the Competition and ...

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