The Effect of Quantitative Materiality Approach on Auditors' Adjustment Decisions
Posted: 25 Feb 2005
Two alternative approaches are used in audit practice to provide quantitative materiality assessments about proposed audit adjustments. The cumulative approach compares to net income the total amount of misstatement existing at the end of the current period, while the current-period approach compares to net income the amount of misstatement added in the current period. Depending on the relation between total misstatement and current-period misstatement, either the cumulative approach or the current-period approach can calculate higher quantitative materiality. This paper reports an experiment that varies materiality approach between auditors by providing auditors with either the current-period or cumulative formats used by their firm to summarize proposed audit adjustments. Results indicate that, across a variety of experimental contexts (varying misstatement size, subjectivity, precision and income effect, and varying whether auditors document effects on their client's quality of earnings), auditors are more likely to require their client to book the misstatement under the approach that makes the misstatement appear more material. These results suggest that standard setters mandate that auditors require adjustment whenever a misstatement is material under either approach.
Keywords: Materiality, auditing, adjusting entries, iron curtain, rollover, earnings management
JEL Classification: M41, M43, M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation