Banks’ Audit Committees, Audit Firm Alumni, and Fees Paid to Audit Firm

Forthcoming in Managerial Auditing Journal

43 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019

See all articles by Kim Ittonen

Kim Ittonen

Hanken School of Economics - Department of Accounting

Emma-Riikka Myllymäki

Aalto University School of Business

Per Tronnes

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Date Written: May 14, 2019

Abstract

Purpose
This paper focuses on bank audit committees and examines whether audit committee members who are former auditors are associated with the acquisition of audit and non-audit services from their former employers.

Design/methodology/approach
We empirically examine a sample of large banks that are included in the S&P Composite 1500.

Findings
We find significantly lower audit fees and a higher proportion of non-audit fees to total fees when the audit committee chair is an alumnus of the incumbent audit firm. Moreover, additional analysis reveals that these findings are stronger for banks with more earnings management.

Implications
Overall, the findings indicate that audit firms might consider banks employing their alumni as audit committee chairs to be less risky or easier to audit, thus requiring relatively less effort from the auditors. The reduced effort required to audit clients with audit firm alumni on their audit committees then has the effect of reducing the audit fees charged. Alternatively, their auditing experience and cognitive proximity might influence the assessment of the need for auditing or the ability to negotiate lower audit fees on the part of audit firm alumni.

Originality/value
This paper provides empirical evidence of the association between audit firm alumni in influential positions on an audit committee and fees paid to those audit firms in the banking industry. The findings contribute to the literature by suggesting that banks with affiliated former auditors chairing their audit committees have significantly lower audit fees, but also a higher proportion is spent on non-audit services.

Keywords: audit committee, audit fee, audit partner, banking industry

JEL Classification: M42

Suggested Citation

Ittonen, Kim and Myllymäki, Emma-Riikka and Tronnes, Per, Banks’ Audit Committees, Audit Firm Alumni, and Fees Paid to Audit Firm (May 14, 2019). Forthcoming in Managerial Auditing Journal. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3387839

Kim Ittonen (Contact Author)

Hanken School of Economics - Department of Accounting ( email )

FI-00101 Helsinki
Finland

Emma-Riikka Myllymäki

Aalto University School of Business ( email )

Finland

Per Tronnes

University of New South Wales (UNSW) ( email )

Kensington
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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