Do Auditors Price Audit Committee's Expertise? The Case of Accounting Vs. Non-Accounting Financial Experts

Posted: 6 Feb 2008

See all articles by Gnanakumar Visvanathan

Gnanakumar Visvanathan

George Mason University - Department of Accounting

Gopal V. Krishnan

Bentley University

Abstract

The issue of whether audit pricing reflects the effectiveness of the audit committee is of fundamental interest to auditors, managers, and others. Auditors are expected to price the effectiveness of the audit committee because it relates to the control risk and thus, the overall audit risk. This study examines the relation between audit fees and a key determinant of the audit committee's effectiveness, i.e., the financial expertise of the audit committee. Though the Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates the disclosure of a financial expert, the SEC defined experts broadly to include accounting or non-accounting financial experts. Does audit pricing differentiate between accounting and non-accounting financial expertise? For a sample of S&P 500 firms for the years 2000 through 2002, we find that after controlling for several board and audit committee characteristics and firm characteristics, audit pricing is negatively related to accounting financial expertise. However, this finding is conditional upon the strength of the overall governance structure. We do not find a significant relation between audit fees and accounting financial expertise for observations with weak governance structure. Overall, our evidence is consistent with the SEC's initial narrow definition to include only the accounting financial experts. The lack of a significant relationship between non-accounting financial expertise and audit fees suggests that auditors perceive only accounting financial expertise contributes to audit committee's effectiveness.

Keywords: Audit fees, Big 5, Corporate governance, Audit committee, Control risk

JEL Classification: G34, M41

Suggested Citation

Visvanathan, Gnanakumar and Krishnan, Gopal, Do Auditors Price Audit Committee's Expertise? The Case of Accounting Vs. Non-Accounting Financial Experts. Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1088551

Gnanakumar Visvanathan

George Mason University - Department of Accounting ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States
703-993-4236 (Phone)

Gopal Krishnan (Contact Author)

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452
United States
781-891-2477 (Phone)

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