Auditor Style and Common Disclosure Deficiencies: Evidence from SEC Comment Letters
62 Pages Posted: 7 May 2019 Last revised: 28 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 2020
Policies and procedures that centralize decision-making within an audit firm create auditor style effects. Prior research suggests that auditor style increases financial statement comparability, implicitly making financial statements more useful. However, a potential hazard of auditor style is the propagation of decision errors. We examine the association between auditor style and common disclosure deficiencies among audit clients. We measure auditor style as the presence of a common auditor and use disclosure issues identified through the SEC’s filing review process to measure the occurrence of common disclosure deficiencies. We find that auditor style is associated with common disclosure deficiencies among clientele of the same Big 4 auditor. We also find that clients with the same auditor converge in deficiencies as tenure increases and that clients assume the deficiencies of the subsequent auditor. These results provide the first evidence that auditor style has potential costs in the form of common disclosure deficiencies.
Keywords: Audit quality, auditor style, financial statement comparability, SEC comment letters
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