Pork Bellies and Public Company Audits: Have Audits Once Again Become Just Another Commodity?
Brant E. Christensen Texas A&M University – Department of Accounting
Thomas C. Omer University of Nebraska at Lincoln – School of Accountancy
Nathan Y. Sharp Texas A&M University – Department of Accounting
Marjorie K. Shelley University of Nebraska at Lincoln – School of Accountancy
September 5, 2014
Prior research has established that from 2000 to 2007, auditors incorporated clients’ financial reporting risk in their pricing of audit engagements (Charles et al. 2010; Doogar et al. 2010, 2013). However, regulators have expressed concern that the economic downturn and pressure from clients to reduce audit fees has had a negative impact on auditor effort. Our evidence suggests a marked decline in the pricing of financial reporting risk during the 2006-2010 period, further suggesting a reduced focus on the risk of misreporting during that period. This decline is particularly evident among non-industry expert auditors. Connecting these findings to audit quality, we observe a higher likelihood of subsequent accounting restatements among clients whose financial reporting risk appears to be insufficiently incorporated in audit fees, particularly among clients of small audit firm offices. Our results are consistent with a return to the commoditization of financial statement audits and its negative impact on audit quality.