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  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    How a Systems Perspective Improves Knowledge Acquisition and...
    research summary posted September 19, 2013 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.01 Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness, 11.0 Audit Quality and Quality Control, 11.05 Training and General Experience in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    How a Systems Perspective Improves Knowledge Acquisition and Performance in Analytical Procedures
    Practical Implications:

    This experiment provides evidence that training in a systems perspective could help auditors analyze complex relationships between accounting data. This could be used to set appropriate analytics expectations and, more importantly, provide a credible way to determine whether management’s representations are well-grounded or not.  This method also appears to require less mental effort to implement, since it moves the complicated relationship structure out of memory and onto a model.  Given the added complexity of many estimates in today’s companies, systematic methods of processing information like a systems perspective may help to simplify the analysis of the estimates.

    For more information on this study, please contact Billy Brewster.
     

    Citation:

    Brewster, B. E.  2011.  How a systems perspective improves knowledge acquisition and performance in analytical procedures.  The Accounting Review 86 (3), 915-943.

    Keywords:
    analytical procedures; knowledge organization; learning; mental models
    Purpose of the Study:

    Understanding complicated relationships with multiple links between information is difficult, as people have limited memory to keep all the relationships straight.  This problem is evident in setting analytics expectations, as there are many reasons why accounting numbers change from year to year (and the reasons are often related to each other in varying, nonlinear ways).  In order to avoid a “reductionist” perspective where pieces of information are considered in isolation and linearly, auditors may be able to construct a better mental model of the situation by using a “systems perspective”.  This involves considering how all the parts of a system are related as well as their behavior from how they interact.  Using a systems perspective (compared to a reductionist perspective) is predicted to be more accurate, more efficient, better able to detect management representations that are inconsistent with the evidence, and better able to integrate new information into their expectations accurately.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    In an experiment conducted prior to 2008, undergraduate accounting students (juniors/seniors) are given training in evaluating stocks and flows (systems perspective) or business risks (reductionist perspective).  They then learn about an audit client and its industry which has a particularly complicated relationship between multiple factors over time and the resulting product price.  Using the technique they were taught, they then graph the product price over time.  The students are then provided management’s estimate of the price and evaluate its credibility.  Finally, the participants learn new information about the industry and are asked to factor it into their price evaluation.

    Findings:
    • When compared to a computer simulation of how the product price should change over time, participants who used a systems perspective were closer to the simulation than those using a reductionist perspective
    • Those using a systems perspective did not need to exert as much mental effort to perform their evaluations
    • Using a systems perspective made it more likely to identify inconsistent management representations of the product price
    • When encountering new information, a systems perspective allows participants to incorporate the information more appropriately than a reductionist perspective
       
    Category:
    Audit Quality & Quality Control, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness, Sustainability ServicesTraining & General Experience
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Gathering Evidence through Enquiry: A Process Improvement...
    research summary posted September 19, 2013 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 11.0 Audit Quality and Quality Control, 11.03 Management/Staff Interaction in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    Gathering Evidence through Enquiry: A Process Improvement Focus
    Practical Implications:

    Given the results, the study provides evidence that there may need to be some additional guidance or tools used by auditors to stimulate the planning of client inquiries in order enhance the reliability of audit evidence obtained from client inquiry.  Auditors may benefit from having some high-level guidelines and framework to prepare and plan for meetings where they will be inquiring of management.  There would be benefits to providing a loose framework of items to consider before making an inquiry of management. This could increase the reliability of the inquiries as a form of evidence.  If the information obtained through inquiry is more reliable, the judgments and decisions that an auditor makes based on the inquiries may achieve a higher level of audit quality.

    For more information on this study, please contact Guoping Liu.
     

    Citation:

    Liu, Guoping. 2012. Gathering Evidence through Enquiry:  A Process Improvement Focus.   Behavior Research in Accounting 24 (2): 153-175.

    Keywords:
    Audit enquiry, cognitive planning, decision aids, experiment
    Purpose of the Study:

    As the accounting guidance continues to implement standards that require client management to make even more estimates in their financial statements, auditors have to rely on inquiries of client management as means of obtaining of audit evidence.  The critical aspect of this notion is how to make information obtained from management inquiries a more reliable form of audit evidence.  In order to make the evidence more reliable, it is important to determine what improvements in the inquiry process need to be made. 

    Audit inquiries are a key aspect of seeking information regarding the company’s financial and non-financial information.  Inquiries could include obtaining information regarding significant fluctuations in financial information, changes in the business, assumptions made in estimates, the rationale behind complex business transaction as well as other aspects about a client.

    The authors develop two types of decision aids and examine how these aids impact the inquiry process in which auditors engage with management.  The author believes that these decision aids may help improve how auditors plan for inquiries of client management as opposed to explicitly indicating how the inquiry process should occur.   The two types of decision aids are:

     

    • Theory-based decision aid:    This is based on psychology-based theory that someone who plans for the inquiry procedure by creating a mental simulation of its conversation with management will be better prepared to successfully completes the inquiry process.  Cognitive planning could ultimately improve the task performance (but not by prescribing specific behavior) by providing only simple task instructions to assist in planning for an inquiry. 
    • Practice-based decision aid:  This is based on the CICA 360 model that focuses on providing a basis for developing a practice-aid for the planning of client management inquiry,  This model focuses on the reliability of the evidence obtained through the inquiry including the reliability of the interviewee, the effectiveness of the interviewer, the quality of the information, the credibility of the findings noted, and how the information is integrated and synthesized by the auditor into the audit evidence.  The author develops a list of matters to consider in preparing for the client management inquiry.  Using a practice-based planning tool, the auditors will improve how auditors plan for the inquiries as compared to performing a checklist of required steps in carrying the inquiry task.


     

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The participants consisted of 150 Master-level students (from two Canadian universities) who have approximately 6-24 months of audit experience.  The experiment was a 1x3 between-subject research design.  The participants were divided into one of three groups:  base, cognitive planning and practice aid groups.  The base group was provided the background information and then given the instruction to describe how they would perform the inquiry of management.  The cognitive planning group was given more instruction than the base group and was instructed to consider the information the auditor would like to obtain, how to obtain such information during the inquiry, and sequence of steps to carry out the inquiry.  The group is then asked to describe how they would perform the inquiry of management.  The practice group was given the practice-aid that listed the matters to consider in planning the inquiry in detail

    Findings:
    • Comparing the results of the cognitive planning group to the base group, the author finds that the cognitive planning group planned to pose more questions of a larger and more diverse group of the client.  This group also planned to extend their audit procedures beyond inquiry to corroborate the information obtained from management during the inquiry. 
    • When comparing the results of the cognitive planning group to the practice aid group, the results are similar with regard to their planned questions and number of interviewees; however, there was less focus on corroboration outside of inquiring of management
       
    Category:
    Audit Quality & Quality Control, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Management/Staff Interaction
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    The Effects of Employer and Client Identification on...
    research summary posted September 12, 2013 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.11 Reliance on Internal Auditors in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    The Effects of Employer and Client Identification on Internal and External Auditors' Evaluation of Control Deficiencies
    Practical Implications:

    The Primary implication of this study is that reliance on the work of internal auditors may improve audit quality. AS5 recommends reliance on the work of internal auditors for lower-risk areas because it is presumed to improve efficiency. This paper, however, suggests that quality will be improved as well. Therefore, auditors may want to evaluate policies regarding regarding using the work of internal auditors and do so more heavily in the future.
     

    For more information on this study, please contact C.M. Stefaniak.

    Citation:

    Stefaniak, C., R. Houston, and R. Cornell. 2012. The Effects of Employer and Client Identification on Internal and External Auditors' Evaluations of Internal Control Deficiencies. Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. (31)1:39 –56.

    Keywords:
    Auditor judgment, organizational identification, internal auditor, external auditor
    Purpose of the Study:

    Auditing Standard No. 5 (AS5) encourages external auditors to rely on internal auditors to increase the efficiency of lower-risk internal control evaluations. This study uses experimental data to determine whether internal auditors or external auditors are more lenient and by extension, which auditors perform higher quality audits.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    In the post-Sarbanes Oxley period, the authors conducted an experiment with 40 internal auditors and 48 external auditors. Participants were given a hypothetical scenario, and were asked to evaluate the internal controls of the hypothetical firm.

    Findings:

    The main differences between internal and external auditors are as follows:

    • Internal auditors perceive a greater level employer identification when compared to external auditors
    • Internal auditors are less lenient than external auditors
       
    Category:
    Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Reliance on Internal Auditors
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    The Impact of Initial Information Ambiguity on the Accuracy...
    research summary posted September 10, 2013 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.01 Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    The Impact of Initial Information Ambiguity on the Accuracy of Analytical Review Judgments
    Practical Implications:

    The practical implication of this research for auditors is that it is best to avoid making initial hypotheses until after they obtain a comprehensive perspective of the data. Auditors should instead treat early stages of the decision process as a fact-finding exercise.

    Citation:

    Luippold, B.L. and T.E. Kida. 2012.  The Impact of Initial Information Ambiguity on the Accuracy of Analytical Review Judgments.  Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. (31) 2:113–129.

    Keywords:
    analytical review, hypothesis testing, initial information ambiguity, auditing
    Purpose of the Study:

    This study seeks to determine the extent to which initial information ambiguity affects analytical review judgments. That is, this paper examines whether the impact of initial information ambiguity persist even after the ambiguity is gone.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    Around 2010 94 participants, who were mainly staff level auditors, participated in an experiment with a seeded error wherein they were required to perform preliminary analytical procedures. The participants were separated by condition into different levels of information ambiguity to perform preliminary analytical procedures and all were then given the full data to make a final judgment.

    Findings:

    The main finding of this paper is that initial information ambiguity affects an auditor's ability to detect financial statement errors at the end of the analytical review process. Specifically, if auditors develop initial hypotheses using ambiguous information sets, they are less likely to identify errors causing fluctuations in financial data even after they search through all of the client's relevant information

    Category:
    Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness
  • The Auditing Section
    The Effect of Audit Inquiries on the Ability to Detect...
    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 in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    The Effect of Audit Inquiries on the Ability to Detect Financial Misrepresentations
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study show that inquiry, including repeating questions and providing deception training do not increase the accuracy of those observing interviews.  However, the participants were less likely to believe interviewees when they observed the open ended question inquiry than when they observed the yes/no questions only. Therefore, there is some evidence that by observing an inquiry, professional skepticism is increased.       

    The authors recognize that their results may not generalize to experienced auditors, who may have general or specialized knowledge and abilities that enable them to detect deception better than undergraduate accounting students and recommend further research on experienced auditors.  

    Citation:

    Lee, C. C. and Welker, R. B. 2007. The effect of audit inquiries on the ability to detect financial misrepresentations. Behavioral Research in Accounting 19 (1): 161-178.

    Keywords:
    fraudulent financial reporting, audit inquiry, deception detection, deception training
    Purpose of the Study:

    There has been a recent emphasis placed on inquiries for fraud risk assessments. The present study assesses how well deception can be detected during audit inquiries.  Due to the nature of an audit inquiry, the authors predict that the inquiries will create an environment where deception is more difficult to carry out and is therefore easier to catch. Using two experiments, the authors examine whether a student observing an interview (as opposed to performing the interview) is effective at detecting deception and whether training increases the ability to detect deception. 

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors performed two experiments using undergraduate accounting students.  The experiment involved a simulated interview where an interviewer (former auditor and CPA) asked an interviewee (MBA student) questions and observers (accounting students) reviewed a video of the interviews and determined whether the interviewee was telling the truth or lying.  Observers were exposed to one of three sections of the interview: just the representations of the interviewee (just yes or no questions), the representations and the inquiry (yes/no and open ended questions), or the entire interview (including repeated questions). 

    A second experiment was conducted which was consistent with the first experiment. A new set of undergraduate accounting students were observers of the same interviews used in experiment one. However, half of the observers received training and half did not. 

    Findings:
    • Students are not any better at detecting deception by observing an interview than random chance.
    • Those who observed the inquiry (open ended questions) are no better at detecting deception than those who just observed the representations (yes/no questions).
    • Those who observed the entire interview with repeated questions are no better at detecting deception than those who observed the inquiry without repeated questions.
    • Those who received training were not any better at detecting deception than those who did not receive training.
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Auditors’ Professional Skepticism
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  • 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 in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    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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  • The Auditing Section
    Internal Audit Quality and Earnings Management
    research summary posted May 7, 2012 by The Auditing Section, tagged 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.11 Reliance on Internal Auditors, 13.0 Governance, 13.07 Internal auditor role and involvement in controls and reporting in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    Internal Audit Quality and Earnings Management
    Practical Implications:

    This study develops an empirical measure of internal audit quality, and provides evidence supporting companies’ use and  development of an IAF as part of improvements to its overall governance environment.  Regulators and other parties interested in corporate governance may find it helpful to more explicitly consider the role of internal auditor in the evaluation of the firm. 

    Citation:

    Prawitt, D., J. Smith, D. A. Wood 2009. Internal Audit Quality and Earnings Management. The Accounting Review 84 (4): 1255-1280.

    Keywords:
    corporate governance; internal audit function; internal audit quality; earnings management; abnormal accruals; analyst forecasts
    Purpose of the Study:

    Standards promulgated by the AICPA and PCAOB recognize the impact that a high-quality internal audit function (IAF) can have on reducing control risk, and by extension, audit risk.  As such, regulators permit and encourage external auditors to rely on the work of others if that work is deemed to be performed by “competent and objective persons” (PCAOB 2007).  Similarly, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) recognizes the IAF as one of the four cornerstones of corporate governance, along with the audit committee, executive management, and the external auditor.  However, while several prior studies establish a negative association between the quality of firm’s corporate governance mechanisms and management’s tendency and ability to manipulate reported financial results, there is little evidence that relies on archival data concerning the impact of a quality IAF on firms’ earnings manipulation activities.

    The purpose of this study is to examine archival data to determine whether differences in the quality of firms’ IAF impact firms’ earnings management activities.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors rely on the IIA maintained GAIN database (a proprietary database), that is composed of survey responses from chief audit executives associated with IIA member organizations.  Member organizations responding to the survey include publicly traded and private companies, educational and governmental institutions, as well as individual divisions within companies.  The study covers the fiscal years of 2000-2005. 

    The authors create an index based on six factors that SAS No. 65 suggests external auditors should consider when evaluating whether to rely on the work of the internal auditors, and therefore differentiate IAF quality.  Those factors include the IAF’s professional experience, professional certifications, training, objectivity, relevance of their work to the financial reporting function, and the IAF’s relevance to the organization based on how much resources the corporation invests in the IAF group.  To capture management’s earnings management activities, the authors rely on measures of abnormal accruals and whether the firm just misses or beats analysts’ forecasts.

    Findings:
    • Overall, the results suggest that higher quality IAFs reduce management’s ability to manipulate earnings.
    • Specifically, higher quality IAFs appear to be associated with smaller negative abnormal accruals.
    • Companies with higher quality IAFs appear more likely to just miss analysts’ earnings forecasts, a measure of less earnings management.
    Category:
    Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent, Governance
    Sub-category:
    Reliance on Internal Auditors, Internal auditor role and involvement in controls and reporting
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  • The Auditing Section
    Discussion of: “The Importance of Account Relations when R...
    research summary posted May 7, 2012 by The Auditing Section, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.05 Assessing Risk of Material Misstatement, 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.01 Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    Discussion of: “The Importance of Account Relations when Responding to Interim Audit Testing Results”
    Practical Implications:

    Bedard’s (2006) discussion of Vandervelde (2006) reinforces the fact that auditors do incorporate the relationships among accounts in their responses to increases in misstatement risk.  He also suggests that it is important to consider how this pattern maps to auditors’ risk assessments at the financial statement assertion level.  His discussion emphasizes that in response to fee pressure, auditors may shift planned audit hours between accounts (i.e., from low risk areas to high risk areas), rather than increasing overall planned audit hours.  Finally, despite Bedard’s (2006) caveat that this result could be due to auditor self-presentation concerns or a change in the mix of audit procedures that does not result in increased hours, it is important to note that auditors do not appear to reduce planned audit hours in response to fee pressure – and that this could reflect auditors’ cognizance of the heightened importance that investors and the market currently placed on the role of auditing.

    Citation:

    Bedard, J. 2006. Discussion of: “The Importance of Account Relations when Responding to Interim Audit Testing Results”. Contemporary Accounting Research. 23(3): 823 – 831.

    Keywords:
    Account relations, audit planning, interim evidence, profit pressure, auditing procedures - nature, timing, and extent
    Purpose of the Study:

    This study is a conference discussion of Vandervelde (2006).  The purpose of the discussion is to critically analyze the motivation, hypotheses, experimental design, results, and implications of Vandervelde (2006).  Please see the summary of Vandervelde (2006) for further details.  

    The discussant first reviews research on risk-based auditing. The discussant believes that Vandervelde (2006) is studying an important aspect of the audit by examining how auditors incorporate relationships between accounts in their audit testing. Regarding Vandervelde’s (2006) predictions, the discussant believes that Vandervelde’s (2006) hypotheses could more accurately reflect the mathematical model’s predictions. The following points illustrate the primary differences between the expectations in Vandervelde (2006) and Bedard (2006).

    • In response to Vandervelde’s (2006) prediction that the increase in planned audit hours as the severity of the problem increases is greater for related vs. unrelated accounts, the discussant observes auditors may compensate for increased hours in higher risk areas of the audit with decreased hours in lower risk areas of the audit, which explains why prior studies find that auditors do not always respond to risk.  
    • Contrary to Vandervelde (2006), the discussant suggests that the increase in planned audit hours for low-relatedness accounts is not mitigated by fee pressure; rather there is a decline in planned audit hours, which is heightened by fee pressure.
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The discussant reviews and provides suggestions for Vandervelde’s (2006) motivation, hypotheses, experimental design, and results.  The discussant also integrates Vandervelde (2006) in the context of prior research and suggests avenues for future research.

    Findings:
    • The discussant observes that Vandervelde’s (2006) findings suggest that auditors do consider the relationship between accounts, as planned audit hours increase for accounts related to the account where the problem was discovered and do not materially change for nonrelated accounts. 
    • The discussant states that Vandervelde’s (2006) finding that profit pressure does not influence auditors’ response to increases in risk is consistent with the market scrutiny on audit quality spurring audit firms to decrease emphasis on profit pressure.  However the discussant also observes that this finding could have been an artifact of the experimental design of the study, as auditors may have been reluctant to show that they are affected by profit pressure.  Further, this result suggests that auditors may change the mix of audit procedures for an account to address increases in risk, rather than changing the planned hours for that account.   
    • The discussant suggests that it could be informative to examine how auditors react to risks at the assertion level, rather than the account level. He suggests that accounts can be classified as “derived” vs. “generating transactions”, which can assist in mapping to assertions.  In Vandervelde’s (2006) context, the purchases account would be classified as “generating transactions”, while accounts payable and inventory are classified as “derived” (from purchases on account/disbursements and purchases/sales, respectively).  Thus, loss of documents would suggest issues with the completeness assertion for purchases, accounts payable and inventory.  The loss of documents should prompt an auditor to adjust audit procedures related to completeness, but not other assertions.
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Assessing Risk of Material Misstatement, Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness
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  • The Auditing Section
    The Importance of Account Relations when Responding to...
    research summary posted May 7, 2012 by The Auditing Section, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.05 Assessing Risk of Material Misstatement, 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.01 Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    The Importance of Account Relations when Responding to Interim Audit Testing Results
    Practical Implications:

    The results of the study are important, as they demonstrate that relations among different financial statement accounts should be considered when examining how auditors respond to changes in risk of misstatements.  Specifically, auditors do appear to respond to increases in the risk of material misstatement of one account by also increasing planned audit hours in related accounts.  The results also highlight the fact that auditors’ responses to changes in audit risk are insensitive to fee pressure; specifically, the increase in budgeted audit hours when encountering a serious misstatement is similar whether fee pressure is low or high.  Moreover, the author suggests that the concept of relatedness of accounts explored in this paper could be extended to tests of internal controls – for example, information about the effectiveness of one internal control could be informative about strength or importance of related internal controls

    Citation:

    Vandervelde, S. 2006. The Importance of Account Relations when Responding to Interim Audit Testing Results. Contemporary Accounting Research. 23(3): 789 – 821.

    Keywords:
    Account relations; audit planning; interim evidence; profit pressure; auditing procedures - nature, timing, and extent
    Purpose of the Study:

    Both U.S. and international auditing standards mandate auditors to adapt audit procedures as the risk of the audit engagement changes.  As many financial statement accounts are interrelated (e.g., accounts payable and inventory), it is important for auditors to consider the relations between accounts when engaging in audit planning procedures and adjusting audit procedures for changes in risk.  This study tests auditors’ responses to risk changes discovered during interim testing (potential fraud, error, or no problem).  The study also explores the following two potential reasons why prior research has generally concluded that auditors are not very responsive to risk changes:

    • Profit pressures may cause auditors to avoid increasing audit testing, in order to keep the engagement audit fees at the level initially agreed upon.  To address this potential explanation in the experiment, the author examines whether auditors’ still increase planned audit hours in the presence of more severe misstatements even when audit profit pressure is high.
    • An auditor’s response to risk changes may not be detected when accounts are analyzed in isolation rather than considering the relations between accounts (that are inherent in the double-entry format of recording transactions). For example, an auditor may address an increase in risk of accounts payable by performing additional testing of inventory receipts. To address this potential explanation in the experiment, the author examines how auditors’ responses to risk increases in an account differ, depending on whether the accounts are related vs. unrelated. 
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The research evidence was collected prior to 2004. The author uses a group of audit senior associates from both Big 4 and non-Big 4 audit firms to complete a simulated audit budgeting task from a website. Participants are first asked to read background information on the audit client, including the prior year audit budget and realized audit hours.  Then, participants are asked to prepare an
    initial budget for audit hours allocated to five financial statement accounts.  Next, participants view the results from interim testing procedures (where the potential fraud, error, or no problem arises) and are then asked to indicate the amount of audit hours they would budget for the year-end audit work, representing their response to the change (or no change) in risk. 

    Findings:
    • Auditors’ planned audit hours for an account increase as the interim audit procedure results indicate that the account has more serious problems (i.e., potential fraud is the most serious, error is moderately serious, and no problem is least serious).
    • As the severity of a potential account misstatement increases, the associated increase in budgeted audit hours is greater when relatedness between accounts is high than when relatedness is low. 
    • The increase in budgeted audit hours in response to the interim testing results indicating a serious misstatement is the same under both low and high fee pressure, indicating that auditors’ response to increased risk is insensitive to high fee pressure.
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent
    Sub-category:
    Assessing Risk of Material Misstatement, Substantive Analytical Review – Effectiveness
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  • The Auditing Section
    Internal Audit Reporting Lines, Fraud Risk Decomposition,...
    research summary posted May 4, 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, 08.11 Reliance on Internal Auditors, 13.0 Governance, 13.07 Internal auditor role and involvement in controls and reporting in Auditing Section Research Summary Database > Auditing Section Research Summaries Space public
    Title:
    Internal Audit Reporting Lines, Fraud Risk Decomposition, and Assessments of Fraud Risk
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study are important for audit firms to consider when determining the extent of reliance on internal auditor’s fraud risk assessments.  Internal auditor judgments may be influenced by pressures to decrease risk assessments when reporting to the audit committee.  Thus, the recent suggested improvements for improving audit practice and risk assessment processes by reporting to the audit committee may have adverse and unexpected consequences.  Additionally, internal auditor judgments may be influenced by an over-reliance on attitude cues, even when decomposing fraud risk assessments.  Thus, decomposition may amplify the problem that prompted its use.

    Citation:

    Norman, C.S., A.M. Rose, and J.M. Rose. 2010. Internal audit reporting lines, fraud risk decomposition, and assessments of fraud risk. Accounting, Organizations and Society 35: 546-557.

    Keywords:
    internal audit, fraud risk assessment, audit committee
    Purpose of the Study:

    The internal auditor function is one of the four cornerstones of corporate governance along with senior management, the board, and external auditors.  External auditors frequently rely on the work of internal auditors, including firm risk assessments per AS5, An Audit of Internal Control over Financial Reporting that is Integrated with an Audit of Financial Statements.  Internal auditors may report to management or to the audit committee.  Many investors and regulators have suggested that internal auditors should report directly to the audit committee to minimize the threats to independence and objectivity that may potentially occur when internal auditors report to management.  However, if the audit committee is given power over the internal audit function, this may create potential new threats to internal auditor independence not previously considered.  For example, many audit committees now have the authority to hire or fire the Chief Audit Executive.  This paper addresses the effects of internal audit reporting lines on the fraud risk assessment judgments of internal auditors.  Below are two objectives that the authors address in their study: 

    • Examine the extent that internal auditors may be subconsciously motivated to avoid reporting higher levels of fraud risk to the audit committee, relative to when the risks are reported to management.
    • Examine whether decomposition of fraud risk into the components of the fraud triangle (management attitude, incentives, and opportunities) improves the internal auditor’s sensitivity to opportunity and incentive cues.
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors collected their evidence from highly experienced internal auditors (mean experience of 15.3 years) via survey instruments. The authors then collected additional evidence using an experiment where participants were asked to complete a simulated task. Experiment participants were experienced internal auditors with mean experience of 9.6 years.  Survey participants were asked five questions about risk assessment discussions, reporting lines, and reactions.  In the simulated task participants were asked to assess the level of fraud risk in a hypothetical firm.  Participants were assigned to either a higher or lower level of fraud risk and to a reporting line of either audit committee or management.  The research was conducted in the mid- to late-2000s time period.

    Findings:
    • The authors find that internal auditors perceive greater personal threats when reporting high levels of fraud risk to the audit committee than when reporting to management.  Internal auditors fear overreaction from the audit committee, potentially leading to increased workload and management reprisals.   
    • The perception of greater perceived threats leads internal auditors to reduce assessed levels of fraud risk when reporting to the audit committee relative to reporting to management.  This finding is contrary to expectations and reveals additional unexpected threats created by having internal audit report to the audit committee.
    • Internal auditors increase attention to management attitude when risk assessments are decomposed, without a corresponding increase to incentive or opportunity cues.  Thus, unlike external auditors, fraud decomposition does not appear to mitigate perceived problems associated with insensitivity to incentive and opportunity cues.    
    Category:
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk, Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent, Governance
    Sub-category:
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Reliance on Internal Auditors, Internal auditor role and involvement in controls and reporting
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