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    Does Internal Audit Function Quality Deter Management...
    research summary posted July 27, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.04 Management Integrity, 13.0 Governance, 13.07 Internal auditor role and involvement in controls and reporting 
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    Title:
    Does Internal Audit Function Quality Deter Management Misconduct?
    Practical Implications:

    These findings suggest that regulators, audit committees, and other stakeholders should consider ways to improve IAF quality, specifically IAF competence, and IAFs improve corporate governance by assisting audit committees in monitoring management. This study provides empirical evidence consistent with the proposition that IAF quality and competence deter management misconduct. IAF quality and, particularly, IAF competence are important in deterring observable instances of management misconduct, both accounting- and nonaccounting-related. These findings are important because in the early 2000s, regulators responded to public outcry over observable management misconduct, yet IAF quality was largely left out of the regulatory debate and reforms that followed.

    Citation:

    Ege, M. S. 2015. Does Internal Audit Function Quality Deter Management Misconduct? Accounting Review 90 (2): 495-527.

    Keywords:
    corporate governance, internal audit function, internal audit quality, management misconduct
    Purpose of the Study:

    This study examines the relation between internal audit function (IAF) quality, as defined by standard-setters, and the likelihood of management misconduct, such as financial reporting fraud, bribery, and misleading disclosure practices. Standard-setters posit that IAFs serve as a key resource to audit committees for monitoring senior management and that high-quality IAFs deter management misconduct. However, U.S. regulators do not enforce IAF quality or require disclosures relating to IAF quality. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed requirements to increase IAF quality by adding the appointment, compensation, retention, and oversight of the internal auditor to audit committee responsibilities, but these proposed requirements were abandoned. Ten years later, after withdrawing its recent proposal to require high-quality IAFs, NASDAQ is considering how to revise the proposed rules. These proposals demonstrate the need for evidence regarding whether IAF quality results in improved monitoring of management.

    This study informs standard-setters, regulators, audit committees, and shareholders about whether IAF quality deters management misconduct incrementally to other monitors.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The author obtained the initial sample from the Institute of Internal Auditors’ proprietary Global Auditing and gathered additional information from COMPUSTAT. The final sample covers 1,398 firm-years representing 617 unique firms from 2000 through 2009. The management misconduct sample comes from four data sources: the Federal Securities Regulation Database, the Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, SEC’s website and the Department of Justice website.

    Findings:

    The author finds a negative relation between IAF quality and management misconduct, even after controlling for other determinants of misconduct, including board of director, audit committee, and external auditor quality. This effect is economically significant, as a firm with IAF quality one standard deviation above the mean is approximately 2.3 percentage points less likely to have management misconduct than a firm with average IAF quality. This is approximately 29.5 percent of the 7.7 percent unconditional probability of management misconduct. Further analysis reveals that IAF competence, but not objectivity, is negatively related to the likelihood of management misconduct, suggesting that IAF competence is important in deterring management misconduct.

    Misconduct firms have low IAF quality and IAF competence during misconduct years as compared to a matched sample of firms. Then, in post-misconduct years, misconduct firms increase IAF quality through IAF competence. This increase in competence is due to hiring more certified internal auditors and increasing training. However, misconduct firms do not appear to have lower IAF objectivity during or after misconduct years compared to a matched sample. These results are consistent with the proposition from standard-setters that IAFs serve as a key resource for audit committees in monitoring management.

    The findings suggest that high-quality IAFs are effective at deterring both types of management misconduct. Disclosures related to IAF quality would assist stakeholders in predicting accounting-related management misconduct.

    Category:
    Governance, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Internal auditor role and involvement in controls and reporting, Management Integrity