Measuring the Quality of Auditing Services with the Help of Benford’s Law - An Empirical Analysis and Discussion of this Methodical Approach

25 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2010

See all articles by Manuela Möller

Manuela Möller

University of Zurich - Institute for Accounting and Control

Date Written: April 24, 2009

Abstract

The so-called Benford’s Law describes regularity in the distribution of digits of randomly selected numbers, which states that the relative frequency of the leading digits reduces in a systematic manner from the digit 1 to the digit 9. This distribution hypothesis is being discussed in recent times as an audit instrument in order to gain insights into possible conscious and inadvertent errors in data records. The present paper analyses the closing accounts of 1,373 annual financial statements of companies listed on the German DAX and compares these with the Benford’s distribution hypothesis. It can be seen in the process that data pertaining to financial accounts, which have not been audited by the so-called “Big 4” audit firms, but by smaller external auditors, deviate to a significant extent from the regularity of Benford’s Law, which appears to make the use of Benford’s Law suitable as a benchmark to assess the quality of the audit.

Keywords: auditing, audit quality, Benford’s Law, digital numerical analysis, quality uncertainty

JEL Classification: C8, C12, M41, M42

Suggested Citation

Möller, Manuela, Measuring the Quality of Auditing Services with the Help of Benford’s Law - An Empirical Analysis and Discussion of this Methodical Approach (April 24, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1529307 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1529307

Manuela Möller (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Institute for Accounting and Control ( email )

Switzerland

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