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FAR Practice Note - Audit Committee Involvement and Audit Quality Prof. dr. Ann Vanstraelen Drs. Sanne Janssen Dr. Mathijs van Peteghem Dr. Caren Schelleman Ulrike Thürheimer Prof. Ganesh Krishnamoorthy Dr. Rogier Deumes Details
 

The audit committee is a key feature of contemporary corporate governance. Despite ever-tightening regulation concerning its independence and expertise, it still is unclear why some audit committees underperform, and how this impacts the effectiveness of the external audit. We argue that, next to having the appropriate skills, audit committee involvement in the audit process is crucial for its effectiveness. Communication, trust, and support between the audit committee and the external auditor, as well as the power and leadership of the audit committee are key features which may affect how the audit committee deals with disagreements between management and the auditor, and to what extent it will critically challenge both parties. However, these “soft” dimensions are understudied, and more insight is valuable for practitioners, academics, as well as regulators on what triggers audit committee involvement, and how this feeds back into the audit process. We aim to demonstrate that an active, involved audit committee is able to create synergies with the external auditor, which can streamline the audit process and enhance audit quality.

Authors

Prof. dr. Ann Vanstraelen

Ann Vanstraelen is Full Professor of Accounting and Assurance Services at Maastricht University and serves as Head of the department of Accounting and Information Management. She coordinates the multidisciplinary research theme "Culture, Ethics and Leadership". She earned her PhD at the University of Antwerp. Her research interests relate to the broad field of auditing and assurance services, governance, corporate reporting and disclosure, with a specific focus on the quality of accounting and auditing practices. She has been involved in several research projects including commissioned research by ACCA, IFAC and the European Commission. Ann Vanstraelen has published in journals including The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Review of Accounting Studies, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, European Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance, and Accounting and Business Research. She serves as an editor of Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory and is member of several editorial boards. Ann Vanstraelen is actively involved in the European Accounting Association in various functions, including national representative of the Netherlands, member of the Standing Scientific Committee, and chair of the organizing committee of the 2016 EAA Conference in Maastricht.

 


Drs. Sanne Janssen

PhD Researcher at University of Antwerp & Maastricht University

Dr. Mathijs van Peteghem

Assistant Professor at Maastricht University & Doctoral researcher KU Leuven

Dr. Caren Schelleman
Caren Schelleman is an assistant professor at the Department of Accounting and Information Management at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Caren coordinates and teaches courses on internal control and auditing at both undergraduate and graduate levels. She has presented papers at Annual Congresses of the European Accounting Association, Midyear Meetings of the Audit Section of the American Accounting Association, the International Symposium on Audit Research, conferences of the European Auditing Research Network, and at several workshops and seminars in Europe and the US. Her research interests include auditing, assurance services, internal control, and corporate governance, both from an economic and a behavioral point of view.


Ulrike Thürheimer
Prof. Ganesh Krishnamoorthy
Dr. Rogier Deumes
FAR Practice Note - De Betrokkenheid van het Audit Comité en Auditkwaliteit Prof. dr. Ann Vanstraelen Drs. Sanne Janssen Dr. Mathijs van Peteghem Dr. Caren Schelleman Ulrike Thürheimer Prof. Ganesh Krishnamoorthy Dr. Rogier Deumes Details
 

Het auditcomité is een belangrijk onderdeel van de huidige corporate governance. Ondanks de steeds strenger wordende regelgeving op het gebied van onafhankelijkheid en expertise, is het nog steeds onduidelijk waarom sommige auditcomités onderpresteren en hoe dit de effectiviteit van de externe accountantscontrole beïnvloedt. Wij stellen dat, naast het hebben van de juiste vaardigheden, de betrokkenheid van het auditcomité bij het auditproces cruciaal is voor de effectiviteit van de audit. Communicatie, vertrouwen, ondersteuning, macht en leiderschap zijn belangrijke kenmerken die van invloed kunnen zijn op de manier waarop het auditcomité omgaat met meningsverschillen tussen het management en de accountant, en in hoeverre het auditcomité beide partijen kritisch zal uitdagen. Deze 'zachte' dimensies zijn nog onvoldoende onderzocht. Er is meer inzicht nodig voor de praktijk, academici en toezichthouders over hoe de betrokkenheid van het auditcomité kan worden gestimuleerd en hoe de betrokkenheid het auditproces beïnvloedt. Wij willen aantonen dat een actief en betrokken auditcomité in staat is om synergie te creëren met de externe accountant, waarbij beide partijen op elkaar vertrouwen en elkaar steunen. Die synergie kan het auditproces en de auditkwaliteit naar een hoger niveau tillen.

Authors

Prof. dr. Ann Vanstraelen

Ann Vanstraelen is Full Professor of Accounting and Assurance Services at Maastricht University and serves as Head of the department of Accounting and Information Management. She coordinates the multidisciplinary research theme "Culture, Ethics and Leadership". She earned her PhD at the University of Antwerp. Her research interests relate to the broad field of auditing and assurance services, governance, corporate reporting and disclosure, with a specific focus on the quality of accounting and auditing practices. She has been involved in several research projects including commissioned research by ACCA, IFAC and the European Commission. Ann Vanstraelen has published in journals including The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Review of Accounting Studies, Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory, European Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance, and Accounting and Business Research. She serves as an editor of Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory and is member of several editorial boards. Ann Vanstraelen is actively involved in the European Accounting Association in various functions, including national representative of the Netherlands, member of the Standing Scientific Committee, and chair of the organizing committee of the 2016 EAA Conference in Maastricht.

 


Drs. Sanne Janssen

PhD Researcher at University of Antwerp & Maastricht University

Dr. Mathijs van Peteghem

Assistant Professor at Maastricht University & Doctoral researcher KU Leuven

Dr. Caren Schelleman
Caren Schelleman is an assistant professor at the Department of Accounting and Information Management at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Caren coordinates and teaches courses on internal control and auditing at both undergraduate and graduate levels. She has presented papers at Annual Congresses of the European Accounting Association, Midyear Meetings of the Audit Section of the American Accounting Association, the International Symposium on Audit Research, conferences of the European Auditing Research Network, and at several workshops and seminars in Europe and the US. Her research interests include auditing, assurance services, internal control, and corporate governance, both from an economic and a behavioral point of view.


Ulrike Thürheimer
Prof. Ganesh Krishnamoorthy
Dr. Rogier Deumes
FAR Practice Note - Audit Production Prof. Joseph Gerakos PhD Prof. Chad Syverson Ulrike Thürheimer Details
 

Production is the process by which inputs are transformed into outputs through factors of production. In the case of an audit, audit effort (labor and time) is used to produce assurance over client financial statements.

As is typical for services, labor is the most important factor in the production of audits. Although audit production is crucial to understanding the economics of auditing, the literature on audit production is sparse due to the difficulty of observing and measuring the factors of production.

Authors

Prof. Joseph Gerakos PhD

Associate Professor of Business Administration Tuck School of business

Prof. Chad Syverson
Ulrike Thürheimer
FAR Practice Note - Copycat behavior by junior auditors – The impact of their senior’s working style and the role of promotion incentives Prof. dr. Eddy Cardinaels Prof. dr. Kristof Stouthuysen Dr. Evelien Reusen Details
 

As a key attribute to audit quality, regulators specify that more experienced staff (i.e. managers, senior auditors) should provide less experienced staff with appropriate coaching and on-the-job training (IAASB 2014). It is fairly common for junior auditors to start their auditing career by mimicking a more senior person who performs similar tasks; as the saying goes, “Monkey see, monkey do” (Cannon, 2016). Yet, while imitation is an inherent human tendency, limited evidence exists on the impact of such imitative behavior on the quality of an individual auditor’s judgment. The objective of our research project is to examine the extent to which mimicking behavior occurs in junior–senior auditor relationships and its consequences for audit quality. In particular, we advance the argument that this imitation tendency may lead junior auditors to follow seniors’ auditing practices, even when those practices are not always ideal. We also examine whether promotion opportunities for the junior can be an important contributor in mimicking an audit style of a senior (which in turn would affect audit quality). The tendency to imitate their senior – even though his working practices might not be ideal - might be higher when the direct senior has a strong voice in the promotion decision of the junior.

Authors

Prof. dr. Eddy Cardinaels

Eddy Cardinaels (1975) is full Professor of accounting at Tilburg University and part-time professor at KU Leuven. His work combines new insights from psychology and behavioral economics to study how different information presentation (ABC, BSC, summaries of earnings releases) can affect decision making of managers within companies. Other experimental work focuses on drivers of honest reporting and social motives in inter-firm negotiations. He also conducts archival work on corporate governance examining how social connections between board members affect financial reporting, how companies use their networks to engage in tax avoidance and factors that drive (excess) compensation. Eddy has published in leading journals such as The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, and Accounting, Organizations and Society, and Review of Accounting Studies. Eddy’s work has been recognized with several prestigious awards including the greatest impact on practice award (AAA).

Prof. dr. Kristof Stouthuysen

Professor in Accounting and Control at Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven.

Dr. Evelien Reusen
FAR Practice Note - Imitatiegedrag bij junior auditors: de impact van de werkstijl van de senior en de rol van promotiedruk Prof. dr. Eddy Cardinaels Prof. dr. Kristof Stouthuysen Dr. Evelien Reusen Details
 

Om audit kwaliteit te waarborgen, hebben meer ervaren auditors (i.e., senior auditors) de taak om minder ervaren auditors (i.e., junior auditors) tijdig te beoordelen en te voorzien van gepaste coaching en ‘on-the-job’ training (IAASB 2014). Het geven van het goede voorbeeld door de senior is hierbij belangrijk, zeker wanneer we erkennen dat junior auditors in het begin van hun carrière vaak geneigd zijn het gedrag en de werkstijl van senior auditors te imiteren. Hoewel het imiteren van anderen deel uitmaakt van het menselijke gedrag, hebben we tot op heden nog maar weinig inzicht in hoe imitatiegedrag de oordeelsvorming bij junior auditors beïnvloedt. Het doel van dit onderzoeksproject is om de rol van imitatiegedrag in junior-senior auditor relaties na te gaan en inzicht te krijgen in de gevolgen hiervan op auditkwaliteit. Tegelijkertijd onderzoeken we ook hoe promotiedruk dit imitatiegedrag kan versterken. De neiging van junior auditors om hun senior te imiteren – zelfs wanneer deze laatste zijn werkstijl niet in lijn is met de verwachte professioneel-kritische houding – kan meer uitgesproken zijn wanneer de senior auditor een doorslaggevende stem heeft bij toekomstige promotiebeslissingen. De bevindingen van deze studie zullen leiden tot waardevolle inzichten voor het wereldwijde auditberoep. 

Authors

Prof. dr. Eddy Cardinaels

Eddy Cardinaels (1975) is full Professor of accounting at Tilburg University and part-time professor at KU Leuven. His work combines new insights from psychology and behavioral economics to study how different information presentation (ABC, BSC, summaries of earnings releases) can affect decision making of managers within companies. Other experimental work focuses on drivers of honest reporting and social motives in inter-firm negotiations. He also conducts archival work on corporate governance examining how social connections between board members affect financial reporting, how companies use their networks to engage in tax avoidance and factors that drive (excess) compensation. Eddy has published in leading journals such as The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, and Accounting, Organizations and Society, and Review of Accounting Studies. Eddy’s work has been recognized with several prestigious awards including the greatest impact on practice award (AAA).

Prof. dr. Kristof Stouthuysen

Professor in Accounting and Control at Vlerick Business School and KU Leuven.

Dr. Evelien Reusen
FAR Practice Note - Auditor Reporting for Going-Concern Uncertainty: Research Findings and implications for practitioners Prof. Marshall Geiger PhD Prof. dr. Anna Gold Prof. dr. Philip Wallage Details
 

The auditor’s decision regarding a going concern opinion (GCO) is among their most important judgments, as GCOs impact the client company, markets, financial statement users, and auditors themselves. Such a sensitive and complex judgement call requires expertise and experience. In the academic literature, GCO decisions are often seen as related to audit quality, and they are among the few observable outcomes of the audit that vary across engagements. In the last decades, academic researchers have spent considerable effort examining GCO decisions. We believe that audit practitioners can benefit from improved awareness of the insights that research has generated. In our complete report (Geiger, Gold, and Wallage, 2019), we review and synthesize 149 academic studies authored since 2013, the end of the previous synthesis by Carson et al (2013). In this practitioner note, we make a selection of what we deem the most interesting insights from our review, and discuss their implications for practice. We then report on our focus group engagement with audit practitioners where we obtained their perceptions regarding some the academic findings, the issues faced in making GCO decisions, as well as areas where additional research would be helpful.

Authors

Prof. Marshall Geiger PhD

Marshall A. Geiger, Ph.D., CPA, is the CSX Chair in Management and Accounting and Professor of Accounting at the Robins School of Business, University of Richmond. Marshall has also been an honorary Professor of the Faculty of Business and Law at Deakin University in Australia.  He graduated from Penn State University in 1988 with his Ph.D. in accounting and has published over 75 articles, a research monograph, and a Chapter in a research reference book on numerous topics in accounting, auditing and accounting education. Marshall has been recognized as the most prolific accounting scholar among all accounting Ph.Ds graduating worldwide in 1988. He is a past Editor at Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, and former Associate Editor at Accounting Horizons and holds appointments on five editorial review boards of scholarly journals in the US and internationally. Marshall has delivered over 60 educational and research seminars and programs on a broad range of topics in accounting and auditing to a wide range of participants, including audit practitioners, entrepreneurs, academics, lawyers and standard-setters.


Prof. dr. Anna Gold

Anna Gold obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam in 2004, worked as an assistant professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University for six years and is currently professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where she teaches Auditing at the BSc and MSc level, as well as PhD courses in Auditing and Experimental Methods. Anna’s research interests are in the judgment and decision-making area, primarily applied to the field of Auditing. Her research has focused on the impact of regulatory changes, on judgments and decisions of auditors and financial statement users. Her recent work focuses on how auditors and audit firms handle errors and whether varying the error management climate affects auditors’ error reporting willingness and audit firm learning. Anna’s work and her publications have appeared in a number of prestigious journals such as The Accounting Review, Accounting Horizons, Journal of Business Ethics, and International Journal of Auditing.

Prof. dr. Philip Wallage

Professor of Auditing at VU University Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam

FAR Practice Note - How is auditor commercialism related to audit quality? Prof. William Ciconte PhD Dr. Justin Leiby Prof. dr. Marleen Willekens Details
 

It is taken for granted that a fundamental conflict exists between auditors’ professional responsibilities and their commercial interests. While there is no direct evidence to support this widely held belief, it nonetheless fuels extensive, costly regulatory and standard-setting activities. We propose to examine whether auditors’ commercial and professional motivations actually conflict. Moreover, we argue that quality control mechanisms in audit firms—e.g., performance evaluation and technical consultation procedures—create conditions in which the two sets of motivations are likely mutually reinforcing.

Authors

Prof. William Ciconte PhD

Assistant Professor of Accountancy University of Illinois

Dr. Justin Leiby

Associate Professor of Accountancy and Professor Ken Perry Faculty Fellow University of Illinois

Prof. dr. Marleen Willekens

Full Professor of Accounting and Auditing at KU Leuven

FAR Practice Note - Ten considerations for conducting Root Cause Analysis in auditing Prof. dr. Olof Bik RA Details
 

Root cause analysis is an established process in a number of industries and is a developing area in the audit profession. This practice note speaks to the question of what constitutes root cause analysis specific to the auditing profession (as varying root cause analysis methods may potentially be more or less effective within the auditing context). For audit firms (large and small) wanting to apply root cause analyses as part of their quality assurance systems, the following ten considerations are discussed that are relevant for effectively and efficiently producing root cause findings and recommendations concerning the improvement of audit quality:

  • Root cause analysis, when done properly, can be a powerful tool for collective team-based learning, designed to avoid blame and strengthen continuous improvement.
  • Root cause analysis is about understanding human behavior and judgement and decision making: things that go wrong, often happen in the same way as things that go right.
  • There is not one single root cause to “fix” in the complex organizational context of auditing: incidents may happen that are reasonably beyond management control.
  • Root cause analysis findings and recommendations are not always interventions: it is up to management to weigh recommendations and decide on their “organizational fit”
  • Root cause analyses should be rigorous enough to allow for “evidence-based-change” only: formulating effective actions is more difficult than finding problems.
  • Strong recommendations rely less on a change in human behavior, but are practical, sensible, achievable, and actually measurable as far as what can be implemented.
  • Root cause analysis is a collaborative and dialogic process requiring time, human behavior expertise, and communication skills across professional and social boundaries.
  • Interviewing audit staff that depend on personal performance and professional accountability in their career development is a specifically daunting task.
  • Next to audit deficiencies as ‘triggering events”, good quality analyses and analyzing ‘near misses’ result in richer and stronger root cause analyses.
  • Next to engagement level root cause analysis, more holistic thematic and audit firm level analyses most likely deliver deeper insight and better results.

Authors

Prof. dr. Olof Bik RA

Olof Bik is professor Behavioral Research in Auditing at Nyenrode Business University. He is also a member of the daily board of the Foundation for Auditing Research (FAR). Bik worked in accounting practice for 18 years, since 2002 always in combination with a university appointment. He obtained his PhD at the University of Groningen with a dissertation on the effects of culture on accountant behavior.

FAR Practice Note - Is the internal value of the external audit greater for owner-managed businesses than for public interest entities? Prof. dr. Jeroen Suijs Dr. Robin Litjens RA Dr. Mahmoud Gad Details
 

The research study by Gad, Litjens en Suijs relates to the question of the Foundation for Auditing Research whether there exists a need for ‘different audits for different purposes’. Does the external audit of a public interest entity require a different approach than the external audit of an owner-managed business? In order to answer this question, it is appropriate to analyze the differences in value of the external audit for a public interest entity versus an owner-managed business.

Authors

Prof. dr. Jeroen Suijs

Professor of Financial Accounting at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Dr. Robin Litjens RA

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Tilburg University

Dr. Mahmoud Gad

Lecturer, Lancaster University 

FAR Practice Note - Is voor DGA-ondernemingen de interne waarde van de externe controle groter dan voor organisaties van openbaar belang? (Dutch) Prof. dr. Jeroen Suijs Dr. Robin Litjens RA Dr. Mahmoud Gad Details
 

Het onderzoek van Gad, Litjens en Suijs sluit aan op de vraag vanuit de Foundation for Auditing Research of er behoefte bestaat aan ‘different audits for different purposes’. Moet en kan de audit voor een organisatie van openbaar belang (OOB) anders worden aangepakt dan bijvoorbeeld voor een onderneming die door een DGA wordt geleid?

Authors

Prof. dr. Jeroen Suijs

Professor of Financial Accounting at Erasmus University Rotterdam

Dr. Robin Litjens RA

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Tilburg University

Dr. Mahmoud Gad

Lecturer, Lancaster University 

FAR Practice note: "What do we already know about…”: The Effects of Expert Status on the Audit of Complex Estimates Prof. dr. Anna Gold Prof. dr. Kathryn Kadous Dr. Justin Leiby Details
 

Authors

Prof. dr. Anna Gold

Anna Gold obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam in 2004, worked as an assistant professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University for six years and is currently professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where she teaches Auditing at the BSc and MSc level, as well as PhD courses in Auditing and Experimental Methods. Anna’s research interests are in the judgment and decision-making area, primarily applied to the field of Auditing. Her research has focused on the impact of regulatory changes, on judgments and decisions of auditors and financial statement users. Her recent work focuses on how auditors and audit firms handle errors and whether varying the error management climate affects auditors’ error reporting willingness and audit firm learning. Anna’s work and her publications have appeared in a number of prestigious journals such as The Accounting Review, Accounting Horizons, Journal of Business Ethics, and International Journal of Auditing.

Prof. dr. Kathryn Kadous

Kathryn Kadous is the Schaefer Chaired Professor of Accounting and the Director and Associate Dean of the Ph.D. Program at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. She earned a PhD from the University of Illinois. Prior to that, she worked as an auditor and controller. Professor Kadous' research considers judgment and decision-making issues in auditing and accounting. Her current research is focused primarily on using psychology theory to improve auditor decision making and on identifying the antecedents of auditor skepticism. Professor Kadous' research has been published in The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting Research, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, The Journal of Behavioral Finance, and Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. 

Professor Kadous has served two terms as an editor for The Accounting Review and two terms as an editor for Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory. She serves on several editorial boards and has served on various research and publications related committees and tasks forces for the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Auditing and Accounting, Behavior, and Organizations Sections of the AAA. She is currently Vice-President (Academic) of the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association.

Dr. Justin Leiby

Associate Professor of Accountancy and Professor Ken Perry Faculty Fellow University of Illinois

FAR Practice Note: Het effect van de status van een ingeschakelde deskundige op de controle van complexe schattingen Prof. dr. Anna Gold Prof. dr. Kathryn Kadous Dr. Justin Leiby Details
 

Authors

Prof. dr. Anna Gold

Anna Gold obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam in 2004, worked as an assistant professor at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University for six years and is currently professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where she teaches Auditing at the BSc and MSc level, as well as PhD courses in Auditing and Experimental Methods. Anna’s research interests are in the judgment and decision-making area, primarily applied to the field of Auditing. Her research has focused on the impact of regulatory changes, on judgments and decisions of auditors and financial statement users. Her recent work focuses on how auditors and audit firms handle errors and whether varying the error management climate affects auditors’ error reporting willingness and audit firm learning. Anna’s work and her publications have appeared in a number of prestigious journals such as The Accounting Review, Accounting Horizons, Journal of Business Ethics, and International Journal of Auditing.

Prof. dr. Kathryn Kadous

Kathryn Kadous is the Schaefer Chaired Professor of Accounting and the Director and Associate Dean of the Ph.D. Program at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. She earned a PhD from the University of Illinois. Prior to that, she worked as an auditor and controller. Professor Kadous' research considers judgment and decision-making issues in auditing and accounting. Her current research is focused primarily on using psychology theory to improve auditor decision making and on identifying the antecedents of auditor skepticism. Professor Kadous' research has been published in The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting Research, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, The Journal of Behavioral Finance, and Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. 

Professor Kadous has served two terms as an editor for The Accounting Review and two terms as an editor for Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory. She serves on several editorial boards and has served on various research and publications related committees and tasks forces for the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Auditing and Accounting, Behavior, and Organizations Sections of the AAA. She is currently Vice-President (Academic) of the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association.

Dr. Justin Leiby

Associate Professor of Accountancy and Professor Ken Perry Faculty Fellow University of Illinois