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  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Chief Financial Officers as Inside Directors.
    research summary posted July 27, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 13.0 Governance, 13.01 Board/Audit Committee Composition, 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.06 CFO Tenure and Experience 
    Title:
    Chief Financial Officers as Inside Directors.
    Practical Implications:

    These results have implications for boards when deciding on the appointment or replacement of insiders to the board. Specifically, since only a few non-CEO executives can be granted a board seat, the board should carefully consider which executive would enhance the effectiveness of the board. The results demonstrate that the CFO can enhance board effectiveness with respect to the quality of the financial reports. Yet, the results also show that CFOs who serve on the board are more entrenched. Therefore, boards should carefully consider whether the benefits of appointing the CFO to their board outweigh the costs.

    Citation:

    Bedard, J. C., Hoitash, R., and Hoitash, U. 2014. Chief Financial Officers as Inside Directors. Contemporary Accounting Research 31 (3): 787-817.

    Keywords:
    chief financial officers (CFO), organizational structure, board of directors, financial statements
    Purpose of the Study:

    Chief financials officers possess specialized knowledge and play a key role in the current economic and regulatory environment. This is the first study to distinguish a specific board insider, the CFO, from other insiders based on that officer’s specific knowledge and role within the corporate hierarchy. The authors investigate the association between the inclusion of a company’s chief financial officer on its board of directors with financial reporting quality and with CFO entrenchment. They examined first how financial reporting quality is affected by board membership of the CFO based on two contrasting perspectives. The first is consistent with the agency theory that a board seat provides officers with power and influence; thus, there could be negative consequences from reduced board independence associated with officer appointments. With CFOs on the board, the authors could observe lower financial reporting quality among companies making this choice. On the other hand, the CFO can positively contribute to board effectiveness by improving mutual advice and collaboration. Companies should perform better in those areas relating to CFO functions. The second concern is the risk of entrenchment at the cost of investors.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors used a sample of 7,034 firm year observations. The study sample is based on companies included in the Audit Analytics governance database for 2004 through 2007. The main results are reported using two-stage models. The first stage addresses factors associated with the presence of the CFO on the board, and the second stage tests the association of CFO board membership with financial reporting quality, CFO compensation, and turnover.

    Findings:
    • Companies with CFOs on the board have more effective internal control over financial reporting, higher accruals quality, and lower likelihood of restatements.
    • The results showed a 4.28 percentage point reduction in material weakness (MW) disclosure likelihood.
    • This suggests that suggest that these CFOs are more likely to share information with other board members about the status of the financial reporting function and secure sufficient resources to invest in the establishment, documentation, and testing of internal controls.
    • The results implied that CFOs are more aligned with shareholder interests.
    • CFOs who serve on their own boards receive 26.9 (36.3) percent higher cash (total) compensation.
    • Further, CFOs serving on their own boards are less likely to face turnover following poor corporate performance. However, the authors also find that board membership does not protect the CFO from turnover when poor performance relates specifically to financial reporting quality.
    • These results suggest that serving on the board generally enables CFOs to gain more resources from the company and avoid penalty in times of difficulty, unless that difficulty is related to their direct responsibility.
    Category:
    Corporate Matters, Governance
    Sub-category:
    Board/Audit Committee Composition, CFO Tenure & Experience
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Reaching Key Financial Reporting Decisions: How Directors...
    research summary posted October 13, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 12.0 Accountants’ Reports and Reporting, 13.0 Governance, 13.05 Board/Audit Committee Oversight, 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.06 CFO Tenure and Experience 
    Title:
    Reaching Key Financial Reporting Decisions: How Directors and Auditors Interact.
    Practical Implications:

    The author of this article believes that this book should be on the must read list of researchers interested in audit committees and financial reporting, regardless of their research approach. For qualitative researchers, the book not only provides valuable insights into the on-process dynamics in reaching financial reporting decisions, but it is also a textbook example of how a researcher may conduct multiple case studies in accounting and gain access to key individuals in organizations to obtain private information about the financial reporting process. For empirical and experimental researchers, the book provides explanations that could be useful in developing their theoretical framework and raises many issues that could be researched in the future. The book should also be of interest to regulators, auditors, accountants, and students who are interested in the financial reporting process and the impact of recent regulation on this process.

    Citation:

    Bédard, J. 2012. Reaching Key Financial Reporting Decisions: How Directors and Auditors Interact. Accounting Review 87 (5): 1819-1820.

    Keywords:
    auditing, financial reporting decisions, CFOs, audit committees
    Purpose of the Study:

    The book, Reaching Key Financial Reporting Decisions: How Directors and Auditors Interact by Vivien Beattie and Stella Fearnley, explores how chief financial officers (CFOs), audit committee chairs, and audit engagement partners resolve issues that have given rise to interactions, discussions, or negotiations, between two of these three participants. It is a follow-up of Behind Closed Doors (Beattie et al. 2001), which received the Deloitte/American Accounting Association’s Wildman Medal in 2007. The book provides an update of the 1999 results in the 2007/2008 U.K. regulatory environment that, as the U.S. one, has undergone significant change since 1999. The book consists of two parts.

    Reading each case is very interesting; it provides the reader with information that normally stays behind “closed doors.” The advantage of a book, compared to a journal article, is that there is more space to provide detailed information about the cases. With approximately 30 pages per case, the reader has a good understanding of each case. Even then, sometimes the author wanted to know more about the interaction issues.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    This article is a book review. 

    Findings:

    The last part of the book presents the cross-case analysis of the 50 interactions using the framework developed in Beattie et al. They find that the key influence on the interaction outcomes has changed significantly since the previous study. The influence of the general company/audit firm context and specific context of the interaction is greatly reduced, while the national regulatory regime now has the strongest influence on the interaction (events, strategies, outcomes, and consequences). In the new regulatory environment, it appears that the higher threats from various regulatory agencies as seen by the CFO, audit partners, and audit committee chairs encourage compliance with accounting and auditing standards.  

    Whether readers need to read Behind Closed Doors to understand this new book depends on their interests. If readers are interested in how directors and auditors currently interact in reaching financial reporting decisions, the current book would be self-sufficient. However, if readers are interested in how the process has evolved over time, reading Behind Closed Doors would be useful.

    Category:
    Accountants' Reporting, Corporate Matters, Governance
    Sub-category:
    Board/Audit Committee Oversight, CFO Tenure & Experience
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    The Effect of CEO Social Influence Pressure and CFO...
    research summary posted April 19, 2017 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.05 Earnings Targets and Management Behavior, 14.06 CFO Tenure and Experience 
    Title:
    The Effect of CEO Social Influence Pressure and CFO Accounting Experience on CFO Financial Reporting Decisions
    Practical Implications:

    This study provides direct testing of the effects of two forms of CEO social influence pressure on actual CFO’s reporting decisions. Examining such pressures improves the overall understanding of an individual’s decision to engage in dysfunctional behavior, which can inform auditors and audit committee members who provide oversight of the financial reporting process and have responsibility for mitigating the risk of financial misreporting. 

    Citation:

    Bishop, C. C., F. T. DeZoort and D. R. Hermanson. 2017. The Effect of CEO Social Influence Pressure and CFO Accounting Experience on CFO Financial Reporting Decisions. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory 36 (1): 21 – 41.

    Keywords:
    accounting manipulation, chief financial officer, chief executive officer, compliance pressure, obedience pressure, social influence pressure, and accounting experience.
    Purpose of the Study:

    CFOs play critical stewardship roles related to financial reporting quality and a prominent and increasing role in accounting manipulations, particularly in conjunction with their CEO. This study examines how CEO pressure on the CFO and CFO accounting experience influence public company CFOs’ financial reporting judgments and decisions. 

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors conducted an experiment involving a hypothetical CFO’s earnings manipulation decision. Using a between-subjects manipulation, they utilize three levels of CEO pressure (a control group where the CEO does not pressure the CFO, a compliance pressure group where the CEO asks the CFO to revise an estimate, and an obedience pressure group where the CEO tells the CFO to revise an estimate). 

    Findings:
    • The authors find that two different forms of CEO social influence pressure (obedience pressure and compliance pressure) are both effective in motivating some CFOs to misreport, with no significant difference between the two.
    • The authors find that the CFOs do not abdicate the financial reporting responsibility under pressure, despite predictions from the obedience theory; instead, the CFOs acknowledge that they still have ultimate responsibility.
    • The authors find an inverse relation between CFO accounting experience and revision of the initial adjustment, consistent with accounting experience empowering CFO resistance to pressure. 
    Category:
    Corporate Matters
    Sub-category:
    CFO Tenure & Experience, Earnings Targets & Management Behavior

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