While quality has always been important for accountants in general, and the Big Six (Five) in particular, it is even more so now. With the acute changes that have taken, and are taking, place, audit quality should have become even more pivotal in the firms’ quest for “growth, glamour and profitability,” and not as tangential or even irrelevant as it has ostensibly become according to some critics of the profession, e.g., Stevens (1991). Perhaps, the profession, that historically epitomized quality in its “guardian of the public interest” role, has not really become as complacent about quality as it is being made out to be. It is impossible, we feel, for any technology that relies solely on inspecting a client's books ex-post to be perfect and 100% reliable (in terms of being able to: discriminate perfectly between a Warren Buffett and a Barry Minkow-type1 fraudster; and detect each and every Minkow before it is too late) and yet affordable. As diligent and healthily skeptical as auditors are, they can at best deliver a high quality—but not perfect —service, just like the assurance provided by any test or system for screening library patrons, airline baggage, etc.
Kini, Ramesh, "Impact of Advances in IS on Audit Quality and Audit Technology" (1998). AMCIS 1998 Proceedings. 10.