Independence in Appearance, Earnings Conservatism, and Prediction of Future Cash Flows

47 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2003

See all articles by Stacie Kelley Laplante

Stacie Kelley Laplante

University of Wisconsin - Madison

D. Shores

University of Washington - Department of Accounting

Yen H. Tong

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Nanyang Business School

Date Written: September 2004

Abstract

We document that the provision of non-audit services to audit clients creates a lack of independence in appearance, resulting in heightened scrutiny of audit-client relationships with high ratios of non-audit fees to total fees. In some circumstances, this scrutiny can motivate managers and auditors of companies with high fee ratios to apply GAAP more conservatively to avoid costly regulation. Consistent with our predictions, we find evidence that earnings conservatism increases with the fee ratio only for politically visible companies in fiscal 2000 and no evidence that earnings conservatism increases with the fee ratio for any companies in fiscal 2001. We also investigate whether an unintended consequence of regulatory scrutiny related to independence in appearance is an attenuation of the usefulness of reported earnings for the purpose of predicting future cash flows. We find no evidence that impairment of this aspect of earnings quality is associated with high fee ratios.

JEL Classification: M41, M43, M44, M49, L84, G12

Suggested Citation

Laplante, Stacie Kelley and Shores, D. and Tong, Yen H., Independence in Appearance, Earnings Conservatism, and Prediction of Future Cash Flows (September 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=447380 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.447380

Stacie Kelley Laplante

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

975 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-265-3494 (Phone)
608-265-3494 (Fax)

D. Shores (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Department of Accounting ( email )

224 Mackenzie Hall, Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States
206-543-5605 (Phone)
206-685-9392 (Fax)

Yen H. Tong

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Nanyang Business School ( email )

Singapore 639798
Singapore
65-6790-5743 (Phone)

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