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In this paper we investigate audit pricing for financial institutions. We modify the standard audit fee model for industrial companies by incorporating measures of risk and complexity that are either unique to or more relevant for banks, and that are used by bank regulatory agencies. For a sample of 277 financial institutions in fiscal 2000, we find that audit fees are higher for banks having more transactions accounts, fewer securities as a percentage of total assets, lower levels of efficiency, and higher degrees of credit risk. Higher fees also obtain for savings institutions, for banks that are more involved in acquisition activity, and for institutions that are required by regulatory agencies to maintain higher levels of risk-adjusted capital. Our model reveals that the complexities and risks deemed most important by regulatory agencies are also those that tend to be priced by audit firms. The importance of the audit process for banks is likely to intensify in the future as regulatory changes increase the importance of market discipline in controlling bank risk-taking.




Elsevier Inc.

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Journal of Accounting and Public Policy

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