The fees earned by French
professional service firms have dropped and there are marked
differences between the work-sharing efforts of joint auditors in
some cases, according to a recent study by the French financial
regulator (Autorité des Marchés Financiers – AMF).

Overall fees paid to statutory auditors for audit and non-audit
services by French companies listed in the CAC 40 (Cotation
Assistée en Continu – CAC), France’s benchmark stock market index,
fell 3 percent to €728 million ($1.1 billion) in the 2007 financial
year.

The AMF said the fall reflected the relative stability of the
regulatory environment in 2007, with most of the audit work on IFRS
and internal control being conducted in 2005 and 2006 following the
introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley requirements for foreign companies
listed in the US. The AMF reported there had been no material
change in fees paid for services directly related to the audit
engagement and a slight increase in fees paid for non-audit
services.

Ernst & Young remained the leading auditor with 21
engagements (22 in 2006), while Deloitte consolidated its
second-place position. Mazars, though not one of the Big Four, now
has the same number of engagements (12) as KPMG, although KPMG’s
engagements were worth €109 million compared to Mazars €52
million.

A new standard of professional practice, entitled Audits
Performed Jointly by Several Statutory Auditors, requires joint
auditors to share the various tasks in a concerted and balanced
fashion. However, despite a slight improvement in the sharing of
work between joint auditors, in practice there were cases where
their relative involvement differed sharply.