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    An Investigation of Auditor Perceptions about Subsequent...
    research summary posted April 13, 2012 by The Auditing Section, last edited May 25, 2012, tagged 01.0 Standard Setting, 01.07 Impact of SEC Actions, 09.0 Auditor Judgment, 09.03 Adequacy of Evidence 
    An Investigation of Auditor Perceptions about Subsequent Events and Factors That Influence This Audit Task
    Practical Implications:

    Auditors should recognize that an implicit tradeoff exists between the availability of subsequent event evidence and timelier reporting.  However, the net effect is not well understood because prior research has only focused on quantifying the benefits of timely reporting, not the costs associated with obtaining less subsequent event evidence.  The low evidence discovery rate reported by participants suggests that the current audit methodology might suffer from inefficiencies.  Further research should establish relative frequency information to help auditors generate hypotheses and guide audit planning.



    Janvrin, D. J. and C. G. Jeffrey. 2007. An Investigation of Auditor Perceptions about Subsequent Events and Factors That Influence This Audit Task.  Accounting Horizons 21 (3):  295-312

    subsequent event; evidence evaluation; auditor judgment; timely reporting; accountants’ reporting.
    Purpose of the Study:

    Generally accepted auditing standards require auditors to consider subsequent events by examining transactions that occur after the balance sheet date.  In light of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) decision to shorten the time between the balance sheet and report dates, this study seeks to better understand how auditors search for and discover subsequent event evidence in this new reporting environment.  Prior literature on this subject is sparse.  The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) are concerned that audit quality will suffer because auditors now have less time to discover evidence of subsequent events.  For example, earnings management behavior is difficult to detect without persuasive evidence.  Specific study goals are as follows:

    •   Verify that auditors perceive subsequent event evidence to be important.
    •  Understand the process auditors employ to search for subsequent event evidence.  Standards suggest ten search procedures (e.g., reading interim financial statements prepared since the balance sheet date), but the degree to which auditors actually follow this guidance is not evident.
    •  Determine whether auditors uncover subsequent event evidence.  Measuring the perceived effectiveness of the ten recommended search procedures provides valuable feedback to the profession.
    •  Examine factors influencing this process.  Theory suggests the intensity of auditors’ search activities is influenced by balance sheet date judgment characteristics (i.e., transaction type, amount of supporting evidence, and consistency with prior expectations), characteristics of anticipated challenge evidence (i.e., consistency with prior expectations, and materiality) and environmental characteristics (i.e., length of search period, and time pressure).
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    A field-based experiential questionnaire was issued to U.S. auditors from each of the Big-4 firms and one national firm over a one-year period prior to November 2004. Participants had an average of 9.6 years of experience. Participants were asked to rate how often they search for and discover subsequent event evidence both in general, and using the ten procedures found in auditing standards.

    •  The authors find that auditors generally perceive subsequent event evidence as more important than the need for timely reporting, and that they use subsequent event evidence in the audit.
    •  The authors find that most auditors perform the majority of fieldwork after the balance sheet date, leaving potentially less time to gather subsequent event evidence.
    •  The authors find that auditors generally follow the ten suggested procedures.  However, the event discovery rate using any one procedure appears to be low.
    •  The authors find that auditors are more likely to search for and find subsequent event evidence when (1) minimal historical evidence exists, and (2) their balance sheet date judgments do not meet prior expectations.
    •  The authors find that auditors are more likely to search for evidence (1) when evaluating non-routine account balances, (2) that potentially impacts the financial statements as a whole rather than one account, and (3) when they have ample time to search.
    •  The authors find that auditors are more likely to find subsequent event evidence (1) that is consistent, rather than inconsistent, with their balance sheet date judgment, and (2) when the search period is longer.
    •  The authors find that time pressure does not impact whether auditors perceive that they find significant subsequent event evidence.
    Standard Setting, Auditor Judgment
    Impact of SEC Actions, Adequacy of Evidence
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