Does the identity of engagement partners matter? An analysis of audit partner reporting decisions

W.R. Knechel, A. Vanstraelen, M. Zerni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This study examines the persistence and economic consequences of variations in reporting style across audit partners in individual engagements. Our results show that both aggressive and conservative audit reporting, measured by the pattern of prior Type 2 and Type 1 audit reporting error rates in auditor-specific clienteles, persist over time and extend to other clients of the same partner. Analyses of abnormal accruals and persistence of client firms' accrual estimates corroborate this finding, and hold both for private and publicly listed companies. Further, our results also show that the market penalizes client firms susceptible to aggressive audit partner reporting decisions. In particular, we find that our proxies for aggressive audit reporting are related to higher interest rates, worse credit ratings and less favorable forecasts of insolvency for private client companies, and a lower Tobin's Q for publicly listed client companies. Collectively, these results imply that audit partner aggressive or conservative reporting is a systematic audit partner attribute and not randomly distributed across engagements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1443-1478
Number of pages37
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Volume32
Issue number4
Early online date18 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • FINANCIAL STATEMENT VERIFICATION
  • CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
  • PRIVATE FIRMS
  • OFFICE SIZE
  • BIG 4
  • QUALITY
  • COST
  • DISCLOSURE
  • ACCRUALS
  • INFORMATION

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