Crash Risk and the Auditor-Client Relationship
Jeffrey L. Callen
University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management
Georgia State University - J. Mack Robinson College of Business
January 12, 2016
Contemporary Accounting Research, Forthcoming
This study examines whether the term of the auditor-client relationship (i.e., auditor tenure) is associated with future stock price crash risk measured both ex ante and ex post. Using a large sample of U.S. public firms with Big Four auditors, we find robust evidence that auditor tenure is negatively related to one-year-ahead stock price crash risk. The evidence is consistent with monitoring-by-learning where development of client-specific knowledge over the term of the auditor-client relationship enhances auditors’ ability to detect and deter bad news hoarding activities by clients, thereby reducing future crash risk. This result holds even after controlling for endogeneity of the tenure/crash risk relation. We further provide evidence indicating that option market investors do not fully incorporate the information contained in the term of auditor-client relationship in predicting future stock price crash risk. Our empirical results have important policy implications for regulators concerned with ensuring auditor independence.
Keywords: crash risk, external monitoring, auditor-client relationship, volatility smirk
JEL Classification: G12, G34, M42
Date posted: February 6, 2012 ; Last revised: January 20, 2016
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