Setting Expected Rates of Return on Pension Plan Assets: New Evidence on the Influence of Audit Committee Accounting Experts
22 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2012 Last revised: 4 Dec 2017
Date Written: May 23, 2017
This study examines whether having accounting experts on audit committees can mitigate the upward bias of expected rates of return (ERR) on pension plan assets documented in prior research. ERRs are found to be lower in firms with accounting expertise on their audit committees. These results are robust after controlling for variables from extant governance and pension research, and they suggest that audit committee accounting experts can help deter managers from setting higher ERRs on pension assets. While extant studies find that opportunistic setting of pension assumptions can be controlled through regulation, this paper provides new evidence on the influence of audit committee accounting experts on critical pension estimates. This newfound governance effect is different from and incremental to the regulation effect previously documented in the pension accounting literature.
Keywords: Audit Committee, Accounting Experts, Expected Rate of Return (ERR), Pension Accounting
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