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  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    A Field Survey of Contemporary Brainstorming Practices
    research summary posted February 20, 2017 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 01.0 Standard Setting, 01.02 Changes in Audit Standards, 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 06.07 SAS No. 99 Brainstorming – process, 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.04 Auditors’ Professional Skepticism, 10.0 Engagement Management, 10.03 Interaction among Team Members 
    Title:
    A Field Survey of Contemporary Brainstorming Practices
    Practical Implications:

    Understanding that auditors allocate greater resources to fraud brainstorming when engagement risk is significant fosters brainstorming of a superior caliber corresponds to stronger regulatory compliance.  Auditors report that engagement teams are holding fraud brainstorming sessions earlier in the audit, document more detailed risk assessments, plan more specific procedures, and retain more documentation.  These characteristics contribute to adequately addressing increased PCAOB regulatory scrutiny.  Additionally, brainstorming sessions are highly regarded when they occur in a face-to-face fashion and are attended by multiple levels of firm personnel—whether that is “core” or “non-core” professionals.  Fraud brainstorming sessions are executed less mechanically (as determined by PCAOB inspectors) by using fewer checklists and increase the amount of time auditors prepare for brainstorming sessions.  

    Citation:

    Dennis, S. A., and K. M. Johnstone. 2016. A Field Survey of Contemporary Brainstorming Practices. Accounting Horizons 30 (4): 449–472. 

    Keywords:
    audit planning; engagement risk; field survey; fraud brainstorming; professional skepticism
    Purpose of the Study:

    The purpose of this study is to further understand current fraud brainstorming practices minding regulatory climate and its impression of brainstorming practices.  The authors seek to understand the auditing profession’s existing framework to effectively brainstorm by evaluating audit team characteristics; attendance and communication; structure, timing, effort; and brainstorming quality.  Fraud brainstorming environment is considered with respect to client characteristics; particularly, inherent, fraud, and engagement risks, and if the client is publicly traded or privately held.  The authors refer to the characteristics as “partitions”.  The partitions allow the study to better examine how each characteristic effects the deployment of resources in response to risk levels and trading status. 

                The study poses further exploration into the implementation of Statement of Auditing Standards No. 99 and its effect on fraud brainstorming practices.  Particularly addressing the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s report suggesting auditing professionals were “mechanically” addressing fraud-related auditing standards.  SAS 99 sought to blend experienced audit professionals—those with greater client experience—with less-seasoned auditors to brainstorm how a fraud could occur specific to the client.  As part of the brainstorming framework, the study seeks to understand if senior-level auditors (partners and managers) and seniors and staff members, along with “non-core” professionals, cultivate meaningful brainstorming sessions. 

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors collected field data from audits conducted between March 2013 and January 2014, per a survey of 77 audit engagements.  Information pertaining to the client, audit team, and brainstorming sessions were called upon in the survey.  The majority (93 percent) of observations were obtained by two Big 4 firms—7 percent from one non-Big 4 global firm.  Each engagement’s partner received instructions for the distribution of the survey to lead managers and lead seniors on the respective engagement while the partner withheld that the survey was for research purposes.  A total of 75 managers and 73 seniors participated.  

    Findings:
    • Surveyed auditors rarely interacted with engagements where fraud in financial reporting was identified.
    • When fraud risk and inherent risk are both elevated for a particular engagement, perceived professional skepticism is also elevated.
    • Risk-based resource deployment is consistent when considering high- versus low-risk clients—particularly, when inherent risk is elevated, audit team size is also greater.
    • Public clients cultivate larger audit teams where managers and seniors have more client experience.
    • With respect to contributions made at brainstorming sessions, the audit partner and manager make the greatest contributions along with forensic specialists and audit seniors.  Interestingly, when fraud brainstorming is more important with respect to the engagement, seniors make lower relative contributions. 
    • Media richness theory is robustly at work with respect to attendance patterns at brainstorming sessions.  Specifically, when engagement risk is elevated, staff and seniors are more likely to attend face-to-face. 
    • Fraud brainstorming sessions are most commonly open-discussion (86 percent) where the session is held during the planning stage of the engagement (87 percent).
    • Results propose that audit partners are open-minded to suggestions made during fraud brainstorming.
    • Fraud risk assessments appear to be independent from brainstorming tactics; however, when inherent risk is elevated and if the client is public versus private, audit teams exert more effort.  
    Category:
    Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent, Engagement Management, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk, Standard Setting
    Sub-category:
    Auditors’ Professional Skepticism, Changes in Audit Standards, Fraud Risk Assessment, Interaction among Team Members, SAS No. 99 Brainstorming – process
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    A Review and Model of Auditor Judgments in Fraud-Related...
    research summary posted October 22, 2013 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 06.02 Fraud Risk Models 
    Title:
    A Review and Model of Auditor Judgments in Fraud-Related Planning Tasks
    Practical Implications:

    The primary implication of the model based on the literature is that simply because auditors may assess fraud risk at a higher level due to the presence of risk factors, it does not necessarily mean that planned audit procedures designed to address these risks will be effective.  Although being aware of fraud risk is necessary to respond appropriately, being aware of only general risk factors makes it difficult for auditors to formulate possible fraud schemes that a client may perpetrate.  As a result, audit plans designed to respond to general fraud risks tend to increase the extent of testing, but do not alter the nature of the testing in a way that would be more likely to catch fraud.  If auditors identify specific situational cues and are able to generate a plausible fraud scheme as a result, more effective tests that alter the nature of the procedures can be identified and carried out.  Therefore, knowledge of fraud risks via experience or training, particularly for risks specific to a client or industry, will help to allow generation of plausible fraud schemes and the design of effective tests.

    For more information on this study, please contact Jacqueline Hammersley.
     

    Citation:

    Hammersley, J. S. 2011. A Review and Model of Auditor Judgments in Fraud-Related Planning Tasks. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 30 (4), 101-128.

    Keywords:
    fraud; risk assessment; hypothesis generation; audit planning.
    Purpose of the Study:

    The PCAOB has expressed concern regarding auditors’ frequent failure to properly adapt their audit plans for fraud risk factors and fraud cues.  Fraud is unique in the audit process in that auditors must plan their audits to address fraud risk, but most auditors have not been on engagements where fraud was discovered, reducing the likelihood that they will assess the risk of fraud effectively from experience.  Much research has been conducted to examine the various aspects of how auditors assess fraud risk and how they react to it.  This paper integrates this research into a qualitative model that shows the relationships between the identified activities of the fraud assessment process and how the related judgments are formed.

    This paper also summarizes auditing research that tests the links in the model, discussing the implications of their findings on these links.  The findings are then related to aspects of the client and situations where certain fraud risk factors may be present and how practitioners should consider these aspects, whether in the process of planning an audit or in training auditors.
     

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The paper reviews and discusses a large number of research findings in the fraud assessment literature dating back to the early 1990s, synthesizing the results and discussing potential implications of their findings.

    Findings:

    The model can be summarized as follows:

    • Auditors’ knowledge of fraud is based on their experience, ability, and epistemic motivation (the extent to which they develop rich and accurate understandings of situations).
    • Auditors’ knowledge, combined with relevant risk factors identified for the audit, contributes to their ability to generate possible fraud schemes.
    • The generated schemes allow for the assessment of overall fraud risk, which the auditors then use to modify the audit program to detect fraud that may arise from the identified risks.

     

    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Fraud Risk Models
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    A Synthesis of Fraud-Related Research
    research summary posted February 19, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment 
    Title:
    A Synthesis of Fraud-Related Research
    Practical Implications:

    To facilitate the development of auditing and other professional standards and to inform regulators of insights from the academic literature, the Auditing Section of the AAA decided to develop a series of literature syntheses for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). This paper is authored by one of the research synthesis teams formed by the Auditing Section under this program.  The literature review is organized around a model that considers fraud from the perspective of the auditor. The model incorporates the fraud triangle, which auditors include in their assessment of the likelihood of fraudulent financial reporting. In addition, we examine auditors’ processes of assessing the existence and effectiveness of the client’s anti-fraud measures including corporate governance mechanisms and internal controls, and their consideration of possible fraud schemes and concealment techniques. This synthesis should be relevant to regulators, practitioners, and academics.

    Citation:

    Trompeter, G., T. Carpenter, N. Desai, K. Jones, and R. Riley. 2013. A Synthesis of Fraud-Related Research. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 32 (Supplement 1): 287-321.

    Keywords:
    fraud, auditing, literature review, SAS 99
    Purpose of the Study:

    This paper was prepared as a part of the series of literature syntheses sponsored by the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association (AAA). As such, this paper integrates and discusses implications of academic research on fraudulent financial reporting, particularly as it applies to the audit. We synthesize academic literature related to fraudulent financial reporting with dual purposes: (1) to better understand the nature and extent of the existing literature on financial reporting fraud, and (2) to highlight areas where there is a need for future research. We examine accounting and auditing research as well as related disciplines including criminology, ethics, finance, organizational behavior, psychology and sociology. We synthesize the research around a model that illustrates the auditors’ approach to fraud. The model incorporates auditors’ use of the fraud triangle (i.e., management’s incentive, attitude, and opportunity to commit fraud), their assessment of the existence and effectiveness of the client’s anti-fraud measures (e.g., corporate governance mechanisms and internal controls), and their consideration of possible fraud schemes and concealment techniques when making an overall fraud risk assessment of the client. The model further illustrates how auditors can incorporate this assessment into an overall strategy to detect fraud by implementing appropriate fraud-detection procedures. We summarize the recent literature of each component and suggest avenues for future research.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    We organize our literature review around an expanded fraud model that considers fraud from the perspective of the auditor. We review accounting and auditing literature related to fraud as well as approximately 60 journals from various fields including criminology, ethics, finance, organizational behavior, psychology, and sociology. Our purpose is to broaden our perspective of fraud and to gain insights from other disciplines about the dynamics of fraud that may be useful to auditors, standard setters, and academics.

    Findings:
    • The PCAOB finds that auditors have difficulty responding when fraud risk is high. Whether auditors simply fail to respond with appropriate fraud-related audit techniques or whether auditors do not know how to respond with appropriate testing is an important area for future research.
    • Little research has been done in identifying fraud examination tools and techniques that can be used by auditors to detect fraud once initial red flags are identified. Future research is important in this area.
    • Existing research has established the relationship between incentives and earnings management and fraud. Future research could address the extent to which, and the conditions under which, incentives might result in earnings management through aggressive accruals, biases in fair value estimates, and structured transactions.
    • There has been a great deal of literature focused on various aspects of the fraud triangle. However, there is still interest in learning more about the factors that affect the likelihood that an individual will engage in fraud. The fraudster’s assessment of anti-fraud measures, particularly controls, with respect to the probability (perception) of detection is also important.
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Accounting Variables, Deception, and a Bag of Words:...
    research summary posted October 20, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 06.02 Fraud Risk Models 
    Title:
    Accounting Variables, Deception, and a Bag of Words: Assessing the Tools of Fraud Detection.
    Practical Implications:

    This paper presents a fraud-detection tool developed based on textual analysis of the MD&A sections in public companies’ annual and quarterly reports. This tool correctly classifies reports into truthful and fraudulent more than 82% of the time. Compared with other fraud-detection approaches documented in prior literature, this tool has the highest predictive power for both annual reports and quarterly reports. Using the tool to analyze a sequence of reports of a company further increases the accuracy of predictions. This paper provides insights for regulators and practitioners in designing fraud-detection tools. As the tool is “trained” using the AAER database, one limitation is the tool may not detect fraudulent reports if the SEC fails to discover certain types of frauds and/or has bias in selecting firms to investigate.     

    Citation:

    Purda, L. and D. Skillicorn. 2015. Accounting Variables, Deception, and a Bag of Words: Assessing the Tools of Fraud Detection. Contemporary Accounting Research 32 (3): 11931223.

    Keywords:
    corporate fraud, financial disclosure, textual analysis
    Purpose of the Study:

    There are many tools developed by academia, audit firms and regulators to detect accounting frauds in the U.S. This paper is to demonstrate that the changes in writing and presentation style in the management discussion and analysis (MD&A) section as captured by a data-generated language tool has high predictive power over frauds. Another purpose of this study is to compare the effectiveness of various fraud-detection tools, including the financial, language-based, and nonfinancial fraud-detection tools, and to analyze the correlations among them. The findings will help investors, regulators and practitioners to select effective tools and use the tools in optimal ways.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors adopt a bag of word methodology to develop the fraud-detection tool. In contrast to other language-based tools developed through the same methodology, this tool does not use a list of ex-ante identified predictive words. Rather, the authors use data to generate a bag of words. First, the authors extract a sample of annual and quarterly reports for the period from 1999 to 2006 from the EDGAR database. Second, they use the SEC’s AAER bulletins to identify which reports are fraudulent. The truthful and fraudulent reports comprise a database which is used to “train” the tool to identify the subtle relationships between words in the MD&A sections and the fraudulent reports. Third, the authors use the decision tree approach to create a list of top 200 words ranked by their abilities to identify fraudulent reports. Based on the list, they build a model to calculate the probability of truthful reporting for each report.

    Findings:
    • The Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) area is a statistic number range from 0 to 1 and is used to assess the overall ability of a model to correctly differentiate truth from false. The ROC area of this tool is 0.89, which is significantly higher than the 0.5 benchmark and is also higher than the ROC areas of alternative fraud-detection tools.  
    • The F-score from Dechow et al. (2011) is the second best fraud-detection tool in terms of the ROC area. The authors find the F-score, a financial-based tool, can be used as complements to their language-based tool.
    • The authors find their tool has an advantage to predict fraudulent interim reports. Through time-series analysis, the authors find a decline in probability of truthful reporting in the two quarters preceding the fraud. They also find including the change in probability significantly increase the predictive power of the model.
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Fraud Risk Models
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    An Examination of the Effect of Inquiry and Auditor Type on...
    research summary posted October 31, 2013 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment 
    Title:
    An Examination of the Effect of Inquiry and Auditor Type on Reporting Intentions for Fraud
    Practical Implications:

    This study implies that there could be a significant relationship between inquiries performed by internal and external auditors and the auditor’s effectiveness in preventing and detecting fraud.  However, because of the many controlled factors in this experiment would not exist in a real world scenario, further research is necessary to assess the validity of these implications. If found to be effective, these inquiries could become a low cost audit tool to identify fraud.

    For more information on this study, please contact Steven E. Kaplan.
     

    Citation:

    Kaplan, S.E., K. Pope, and J.A. Samuels. 2011. An Examination of the Effect of Inquiry and Auditor Type on Reporting Intentions for Fraud. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. 30 (4): 29-49.

    Keywords:
    Auditor inquiry; reporting intentions; misappropriations of assets; fraudulent financial reporting.
    Purpose of the Study:

    Internal controls are presumably implemented to prevent and detect fraud of all forms. Since internal controls can be very costly and fraud is very difficult to detect and prevent, however, the internal controls of a company tend to be incomplete. Alternatively, evidence shows that the most common form of initial fraud detection comes from company employees. This study analyzes the relationship between auditors and employees and how that relationship can influence the employee’s intentions to report fraud to auditors. The study also examines the effect of different types of fraudulent acts such as, misappropriation of assets and fraudulent financial reporting, on the employee’s reporting intentions.  Specifically, this study aims to develop an understanding of the actions that auditors could take to strengthen an employee’s willingness to report fraud.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    This study used an experimental approach that entailed providing a hypothetical situation to evening M.B.A. students from a major metropolitan university and analyzing the participant’s responses to issues described in the scenario. Participants were provided with background information of the hypothetical firm as well as with information about a supervisor engaging in fraud. Evidence was collected prior to November 2011. 

    Findings:
    • The term, reporting intention, means one’s likelihood of reporting fraud to an auditor for the purposes of this study. The study found three issues related to reporting intentions among employees who are aware of fraud.
    • First, reporting intentions to an inquiring auditor are much stronger than to a noninquiring auditor.  This evidence implies that auditors can better satisfy their oversight responsibilities by engaging in fraud inquiries with company personnel.
    • Second, reporting intentions of the employee are much higher if reporting to an internal auditor rather than an external auditor.  This evidence implies that employees prefer to use internal channels rather than external ones to report any wrongdoing in the company.
    • Third, the study found that the type of fraud discovered had no effect on either, reporting intentions, inquiry on fraud reporting, or auditor type. This suggests that the aforementioned findings are not contingent on whether the fraud was a misappropriation of earnings or fraudulent financial reporting. 
       
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    An Examination of the Effects of Managerial Procedural...
    research summary posted February 17, 2016 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.02 Corporate Whistle Blowers 
    Title:
    An Examination of the Effects of Managerial Procedural Safeguards, Managerial Likeability, and Type of Fraudulent Act on Intentions to Report Fraud to a Manager.
    Practical Implications:

    This study provides evidence that whistleblowers take report recipient individual differences (i.e., managerial likeability) into account when making reporting decisions. In addition, this is despite that fact that, eventually, the investigation and resolution will involve multiple organizational members. Further, the results highlight the benefits of managerial likeability: employees have higher reporting intentions when faced with a likeable manager than one who is unlikeable.

    Secondly, this study finds that employees have higher reporting intentions when the fraud involves misappropriation of assets as opposed to fraudulent financial reporting, possibly because employees see fraudulent financial reporting as benefiting the organization as a whole, while misappropriation of assets benefits a single employee to the detriment of the organization.

    Finally, the authors suggest that findings indicating that the strength of managerial procedural safeguards to not influence reporting intent could be a result of poor manipulations and need to be further investigated.

    Citation:

    Kaplan, S. E., K. R. Pope, and J. A. Samuels. 2015. An Examination of the Effects of Managerial Procedural Safeguards, Managerial Likeability, and Type of Fraudulent Act on Intentions to Report Fraud to a Manager. Behavioral Research in Accounting 27 (2): 77-94.

    Keywords:
    managerial procedural safeguards, managerial likeability, fraud, reporting intentions
    Purpose of the Study:

    Because only a fraction of employees who discover fraud actually report it, the authors endeavor to obtain a better understanding of factors influencing individuals' intentions to report fraud, particularly to a non-anonymous recipient such as a manager (as opposed to an anonymous recipient, such as a hotline). The authors predict that reporting intentions to a manager will be influenced by 3 factors:

    • Attributes of the firm (i.e., strong managerial procedural safeguards will result in stronger reporting intentions than will weak managerial procedural safeguards)
    • Report recipient (i.e., a likeable manager will result in stronger reporting intentions than will an unlikeable manager)  
    • Type of fraud (i.e., managers are more likely to report misappropriation of assets than fraudulent financial reporting)

    Results indicate that managerial likeability and the type of fraud, but not managerial procedural safeguards or the interaction with managerial likeability, significantly influence reporting intentions to a manager.

    The authors contend that participants are influenced by managerial likeability because it provides specific information about the manager and acts as a signal about how the manager will likely handle a fraud report. In addition, these results suggest that participants make stronger attributions to a person engaging in misappropriation of assets compared to a person engaging in fraudulent financial reporting.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors execute a 2 x 2 x 2 between-subjects experiment, engaging 171 professional accountants and managers and randomly assigning each to one of eight experimental conditions. Participants had an average of over 26 years of work experience and almost half (47.5%) reported having had discovered a person of greater authority than themselves engaging in questionable or wrongful behavior. Participants were presented with a scenario in which an employee identifies an apparent fraudulent act by his immediate supervisor and asked about their intentions to report the fraud to a manager.

    Findings:
    • Attributes of the firm: Findings do not indicate that variances in managerial procedural safeguards (strong or weak) impact participant intention to report a fraud.
    • Report recipient: Findings indicate that reporting intentions were significantly higher when the manager was described as likeable (as opposed to unlikeable).
      • The authors suggest that this is because likeable managers are perceived as being more approachable, and will be expected to perform well as a recipient of a fraud report.
    • Type of fraud: Findings indicate that participants have significantly higher reporting intentions when the fraud involves a misappropriation of assets (i.e., employees taking company assets) versus when the fraud involved fraudulent financial reporting (i.e., misreporting financial results or financial position).
      • This, the authors posit, is because misappropriation of assets is seen as benefiting the employee only at the expense of the company and its shareholders, while fraudulent financial reporting might be seen as benefiting the company.
    Category:
    Corporate Matters, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Corporate Whistle Blowers, Fraud Risk Assessment
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Are Fraud Specialists Relatively More Effective than...
    research summary posted July 22, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 05.0 Audit Team Composition, 05.01 Use of Specialists e.g., financial instruments, actuaries, valuation, 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 10.0 Engagement Management, 10.01 Budgeting and Audit Time Management 
    Title:
    Are Fraud Specialists Relatively More Effective than Auditors at Modifying Audit Programs in the Presence of Fraud Risk?
    Practical Implications:

    Although both auditors and fraud specialists added non-standard procedures to the audit program, auditors cut the budgets for some standard procedures, making room in the overall audit budget for non-standard additional procedures. In contrast, fraud specialists added standard procedures, but they were not more effective than those selected by auditors, and also provided less budget room for those procedures. The involvement of fraud specialists in planning an audit engagement where fraud risk is present is likely to lead to additional audit effort and cost, possibly without commensurate benefit. However, considering the potential consequences to the auditor of undiscovered fraud, it may be cost-effective to include additional non-standard procedures in an audit program if they improve the probability of discovering a fraud.

    Citation:

    Boritz, J. E., Kochetova-Kozloski, N., & Robinson, L. 2015. Are Fraud Specialists Relatively More Effective than Auditors at Modifying Audit Programs in the Presence of Fraud Risk? Accounting Review 90 (3): 881-915.

    Keywords:
    audit planning, audit procedures, fraud, specialists
    Purpose of the Study:

    Since the passage of Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 99 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, policy-makers and regulators have promulgated additional guidance aimed at improving auditors’ performance in assessing and responding to fraud risks of audit clients. Auditors are expected to address fraud risk through the design of their audit methods and programs and by involving specialists. The authors study whether fraud specialists are relatively more effective than auditors in designing an audit program that will address elevated fraud risk. The goal is to examine whether the expertise of fraud specialists can directly contribute to planning the nature and extent of audit procedures, and whether the mix of procedures that such specialists recommend is likely to be more effective and efficient than the procedures proposed by auditors in a setting where ex ante fraud risk is rated at above a low level. By directly examining fraud specialists’ recommendations for an audit plan under conditions of an elevated fraud risk, the authors seek to clarify whether there are benefits in requesting fraud specialists to participate in audit program design.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    Participants completed an audit case based on an actual company that had issued fraudulent financial statements. Thirty-two fraud specialists and sixteen auditors completed the case  On average, the fraud specialists were 41 years old, had 12 years of specialized fraud-related experience, and six years of auditing experience. The auditors were, on average, 36 years old, had 13.25 years of auditing experience, but no specialized fraud experience. The evidence was gathered prior to November 2010.

    Findings:
    • In a situation with elevated fraud risk, fraud specialists did not select more procedures from a standard audit program than financial statement auditors; nor were the selected procedures more effective than those selected by auditors. This suggests that the benefits of involving fraud specialists in audit planning do not lie in their ability to identify more effective standard audit procedures.
    • When the risk of fraud is other than low, the fraud specialists proposed more additional procedures than did auditors, and the specialist-proposed additional procedures were marginally more effective, but significantly less efficient, than the additional procedures proposed by auditors. This suggests that involving fraud specialists in audit planning can carry benefits for engagements where fraud risk is not low by helping to identify a larger set of effective procedures than even very experienced auditors are able to do.
    • Fraud specialists increased time budgets to reflect the additional effort that they proposed via extensive non-standard procedures. However, although they proposed significantly more additional procedures than did auditors, their proposed time budget increases for those procedures were significantly lower than adjustments proposed by the auditors. 
    Category:
    Audit Team Composition, Engagement Management, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Budgeting & Audit Time Management, Fraud Risk Assessment, Use of Specialists (e.g. financial instruments – actuaries - valuation)
  • The Auditing Section
    Attention to Evidence of Aggressive Financial Reporting and...
    research summary posted May 7, 2012 by The Auditing Section, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.04 Auditors’ Professional Skepticism, 09.0 Auditor Judgment, 09.10 Prior Dispositions/Biases/Auditor state of mind 
    Title:
    Attention to Evidence of Aggressive Financial Reporting and Intentional Misstatement Judgments: Effects of Experience and Trust
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study are important for audit firms to consider when making audit personnel assignments in order to take advantage of individual traits and experiences.  Audit firms may benefit from audit team structures that include members with varying levels of trust and varying levels of prior fraud experience.  Diversifying audit team composition may improve fraud detection while maintaining audit efficiency. 

    Citation:

    Rose, J.M. 2007. Attention to evidence of aggressive financial reporting and intentional misstatement judgments: Effects of experience and trust. Behavioral Research in Accounting 19(1): 215-229.

    Keywords:
    aggressive reporting; experience; fraud; skepticism; trust
    Purpose of the Study:

    Auditors face increased pressure to detect and prevent fraud and increased responsibilities to maintain professional skepticism as a result of SAS No. 99.  Yet their ability to do so may be constrained by their individual traits or experiences.  Previous research has not sufficiently addressed auditors’ ability to detect potentially fraudulent reporting or auditors’ judgment concerning misstatements and has not evaluated auditor characteristics that can influence attention to evidence of aggressive reporting. 
    This paper investigates the following factors:  

    • Whether professional skepticism increases auditors’ attention to evidence of aggressive reporting. 
    • Whether dispositional trust affects auditor’s critical evaluation of audit evidence.  Dispositional trust is a personality trait which affects professional behavior by influencing the degree to which an individual believes that people are typically trustworthy or that they will personally benefit by trusting others.
    • Whether fraud-specific audit experience results in the development of knowledge structures that are useful for the detection of potentially fraudulent and aggressive reporting practices. 
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors collected their evidence using a simulated task completed by practicing auditors from Big 4 and national accounting firms with an average of 3.6 years of experience.  Participants were given background information along with 45 pieces of audit evidence for a hypothetical audit client, and told that they were performing workpaper reviews for the client. Then, participants were asked to perform a surprise free recall of the information. Finally, participants were asked to make a judgment on the likelihood that the client’s financial statements were intentionally misstated.  Participants were assigned to either a higher or lower level of client-related skepticism and aggressive or non aggressive individual audit evidence items.

    Findings:
    • The authors find that increased skepticism is associated with increased attention to aggressive reporting, and as a result, increased belief that intentional misstatement has occurred.
    • Less trusting auditors appear to pay more attention to evidence of aggressive reporting than do more trusting auditors.  
    • The authors find that prior fraud-specific experience positively influences auditor’s judgments of intentional misstatement.  Prior fraud experience may allow auditors to develop fraud-based explanations for aggressive reporting and develop knowledge structures that include potential indicators of fraud. 
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent, Auditor Judgment
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Auditors’ Professional Skepticism, Prior Dispositions/Biases/Auditor state of mind
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  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Auditing Related Party Transactions: A Literature Overview...
    research summary posted March 31, 2016 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 13.0 Governance 
    Title:
    Auditing Related Party Transactions: A Literature Overview and Research Synthesis.
    Practical Implications:

    In this paper, the authors link academic research and other pertinent literature to issues raised in the PCAOB briefing paper on auditing related party transactions. Overall, the authors believe that the findings in academic research and the significance of related party transactions in recent prominent fraud cases are consistent with the PCAOB’s reconsideration of auditing of related party transactions.

    Citation:

    Gordon, E. A., E. Henry, T. J. Louwers, and B. J. Reed. 2007. Auditing Related Party Transactions: A Literature Overview and Research Synthesis. Accounting Horizons 21 (1): 81-102.

    Keywords:
    related party transactions, arm’s length transactions, corporate governance, financial disclosure
    Purpose of the Study:

    Related party transactions are difficult to audit for a number of reasons.  

    • Related parties and transactions warranting examination may be difficult to identify.
    • Auditors must rely on management to provide detailed information on related parties and related party transactions.
    • Despite the increased internal control requirements imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, internal controls have difficulty tracking related party transactions. This difficulty arises because of the wide variety of parties and types of transactions and because some transactions may not be given accounting recognition, e.g., receipt of free services from a related party.

    The authors examine research relevant to auditing related party transactions to contribute to the PCAOB project on this topic and to provide other policy makers, auditors, and academics with an overview of relevant literature. Specifically, they report on the challenges associated with the identification, examination, and disclosure of related party transactions. Additionally, they address issues and research evidence related to nondisclosure and reliance on management assertions, risk assessment, materiality, fraud detection, the effect of related party transactions on corporate governance, and international auditing issues.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    To prepare PCAOB Standing Advisory Group (SAG) members for discussion of these issues, the PCAOB staff prepared a briefing paper posing 13 broad questions for consideration by the SAG. The authors contribute to the PCAOB project by reviewing pertinent literature and providing appropriate insights from academic research relevant to auditing related party transactions. They highlight instances where existing research addresses the questions raised in the briefing paper. 

    Findings:

    The primary conclusions from the literature review are:

    • The definition of related parties varies across regulatory bodies.
    • Related party transaction disclosures are present in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings of most publicly held companies.
    • While listed as a fraud risk factor in authoritative literature, related party transactions do not appear to be more common in companies committing fraud than in companies in which no fraud has been detected. Accordingly, but in opposition to authoritative guidance, survey research indicates that the presence of related party transactions alone does not appear to significantly increase external auditors’ client risk assessments.
    • Although related party transactions in isolation may not be a significant indicator of fraud, when fraud does exist, the presence of related party transactions is one of the top reasons cited for audit failures. The willingness of auditors to tolerate greater misstatement in footnotes may help partially explain this apparent contradiction.
    • Related party transactions should be assessed in the context of the company’s overall governance structure, particularly given the importance of managements’ assertions about the existence and nature of these transactions.
    • Related party transactions often impact the corporate governance of the company by creating gray directors, i.e., directors who are neither insiders nor totally independent of the company. Whether gray directors differentially impact a board’s monitoring effectiveness may depend on the specific board committee (audit, compensation) or may depend on the specific type of gray director.
    Category:
    Governance, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Auditor Perceptions of Client Narcissism as a Fraud Attitude...
    research summary posted June 7, 2014 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 06.04 Management Integrity, 10.0 Engagement Management, 10.04 Interactions with Client Management 
    Title:
    Auditor Perceptions of Client Narcissism as a Fraud Attitude Risk Factor
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study offer initial evidence that manager narcissism is an observable measure of elevated fraud risk. These findings have clear implications for audit practice. The results suggest that auditors are aware of the link between client narcissism and increased fraud attitude risk. Public accounting firms should emphasize the linkage between specific client manager personality traits and the increased likelihood of fraud-related behaviors in fraud risk assessment training. This study may also be useful to standard setters and auditing firms as a means to improve professional guidance regarding how to assess fraud attitude and the resulting effect on auditors’ fraud risk assessments.  

    Citation:

    Johnson, E. N., J. R. Kuhn, B. A. Apostolou, and J. M. Hassell. 2013. Auditor Perceptions of Client Narcissism as a Fraud Attitude Risk Factor. Auditing 32 (1).

    Keywords:
    attitude/rationalization; fraudulent financial reporting; narcissism; risk assessment
    Purpose of the Study:

    Despite increased emphasis on fraud detection in the auditing standards since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, fraudulent financial reporting continues to be a serious concern. Auditing standards state that the auditor should consider client management’s attitude toward fraud when making fraud risk assessments. Very little guidance, however, is provided in the auditing standards or existing fraud literature on observable indicators of fraud attitude. This study tests whether observable indicators of narcissism, a personality trait linked to unethical and fraudulent behavior, is viewed by auditors as an indicator of increased fraud attitude risk. 

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors developed an audit judgment case scenario that included specific indications of client fraud attitude and fraud motivation. Narcissism and motivation were each manipulated at two levels (high or low) in a 2 X 2 design. Participants selected were 101 practicing auditors from several U.S. offices of a large international public accounting firm. The data was collected in an experimental setting, where the participants were randomly assigned to one of four possible experimental conditions and individually completed the experimental materials. Responses were gathered through a combination of: (1) “live” administration at firm training events attended by the researchers; and (2) mail responses, where the managing partners of four firm offices agreed to distribute questionnaires and coordinate their completion and return. The overall goal was an initial experiment of client narcissism as a fraud risk factor in an audit context. 

    Findings:
    • Results indicate a narcissism effect, with significantly higher assessments of fraud risk when a client manager was described as exhibiting narcissistic characteristics. 
    • Auditors assessed fraud risk as significantly higher in the presence of motivations for the client manager to commit fraud.
    • Narcissism did not interact with fraud motivation in influencing auditor fraud risk judgments; high levels of either fraud attitude risk or fraud motivation risk were sufficient to increase auditors’ fraud risk assessments.
    Category:
    Engagement Management, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Interactions with Client Management, Management Integrity
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