An Investigation of Recent Changes in Going Concern Reporting Decisions Among Big N and Non-Big N Auditors

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Corporate accounting failures and regulatory proceedings that led to the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) increased the scrutiny of auditors. We investigate whether these events resulted in a change in auditor behavior with respect to going concern reporting. Generally speaking, we find that non-Big N auditors became more conservative while Big N auditors became more accurate. Specifically, non-Big N auditors issued more going concern opinions to both failing and non-failing clients post-2001, reducing their Type II misclassifications at the expense of increased Type I misclassifications. However, Big N auditors decreased their Type I misclassifications with no corresponding increase in Type II misclassifications. Thus, our findings suggest that increased auditor scrutiny resulted in performance improvements in the area of going concern reporting primarily for larger auditors. For smaller auditors, improved going concern accuracy for subsequently bankrupt clients came at the cost of more going concern opinions being issued to subsequently non-failing clients.




Springer US

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Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting