Information in Financial Statement Misstatements at the Engagement Partner Level: A Case for Engagement Partner Name Disclosure?
Wuchun Chi National Chengchi University (NCCU) – Department of Accounting
Ling Lei Lisic George Mason University
Using data from Taiwan where engagement partner names are disclosed and misstatements of clients’ annual financial statements to proxy for audit quality, we examine whether audit quality at the engagement partner level persists, and whether an engagement partner’s reputation for prior audit quality is informative about current audit quality. We find that at the engagement partner level, year t-1 misstatements made by other audit clients predict year t misstatements for clients without a history of misstatements in the preceding three years, but this effect is mitigated by engagement partner experience. In addition, we find a positive association between the incidence of restatements made by an engagement partner’s clients in the previous two or three years and the likelihood that a different client misstates in the current year, suggesting that partner-level restatements provide information about future audit quality. Finally, we find that an engagement partner’s reputation for past client misstatements (as disclosed in restatements) is associated with a higher likelihood of that partner losing existing clients and a lower likelihood of that partner attracting new audit clients. Collectively, our results suggest that engagement partner identification can reveal information that is informative about audit quality and affects stakeholder perceptions of audit quality, providing some support for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s proposal to disclose the names of engagement partners in the U.S.