The Loss of Information Associated with Binary Audit Reports: Evidence from Auditors' Internal Control and Going Concern Opinions
Posted: 3 Dec 2018
Date Written: August 24, 2018
This study provides evidence that binary signals in audit reports are unable to fully communicate underlying risks that are inherently continuous in nature. Specifically, we find that companies whose audit reports signal an improvement in internal control effectiveness relative to the prior year are still more likely to subsequently restate the current year’s financial statements than companies with no material weaknesses in either year. Similarly, companies deemed to no longer have substantial doubt of continuing as a going concern are still more likely to declare bankruptcy than companies with no going concern opinion in either year. Results in both settings suggest the presence of residual risk that cannot be communicated through a binary audit report, despite the fact that auditors recognize the risk, as evidenced by higher audit fees and longer audit report lags. Our findings are strongest when the reported improvement is more pronounced, and our results hold in matched samples. Our study provides empirical evidence that supports recent regulatory efforts to improve the content of the audit report and offers suggestions for future research.
Keywords: audit report, critical audit matters, material weakness remediation, restatements, internal control weaknesses, going concern opinions, bankruptcy
JEL Classification: G10, M41, M42, M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation