How are Earnings Managed: Examples from Auditors
Posted: 2 Jun 2003
This paper reports descriptive evidence about how managers attempt to manage earnings, based on a sample of 515 earnings-management attempts obtained from a survey of 253 experienced auditors (and also analyzed by Nelson et al. 2002). We classify attempts first according to primary approach: expense recognition, revenue recognition, issues unique to business combinations, and other issues. Then, within each of those broad categories, we subclassify attempts by the particular approach used in the attempt. For each specific approach, we report the accounts involved, the frequency with which the approach increased or decreased current-period income (and the frequency of adjustments required by the auditor), and provide descriptions by auditors of income-increasing and income-decreasing examples of the more frequent approaches. We also link our findings to recent SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Releases ("AAERs") that illustrate extreme versions of the specific approaches identified by our participants. This experienced-based, example-rich framework and frequency data should assist investors, auditors, audit committees, and other participants in the financial reporting process who need to be vigilant for earnings-management approaches.
Keywords: earnings management, financial statements, auditing, examples, categories, frequency, fraud
JEL Classification: M41, M43, M44, M49, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation