This paper responds to concerns raised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and scholars over the rapid growth of Big 4 consulting practices. This paper aims to explores the question: Does the regrowth of sizable consulting practices by the Big 4 influence audit reporting lag and restatement rates?
A population of the SEC-registered US audit clients of the Big 4 was used in this study. Longitudinal data on Big 4 audit clients from 2000 through 2009 were analyzed to determine the impact of consulting practice size on the clients’ audit reporting lag and restatement rate.
This paper finds that consulting practice size has a positive and statistically significant influence on audit reporting lag and restatement rate. The results are robust to alternative specifications of the sample and controlling for the level of non-audit services provided to audit clients.
The findings contribute to the discussion of the scope-of-services issue. They provide empirical support for Zeff’s (2003) and Wyatt’s (2004) intuition that the loss of Big 4 professional focus – not simply conflicts of interests – is a major factor affecting the audit quality.
The uniqueness of this paper is in how it counts restatements. Each year this paper counts that annual financial statements are restated as opposed to each disclosure of a restatement. This paper’s contribution is to examine the association between the regrowth of Big 4 accounting firm consulting practices with audit reporting lag and restatements.
Meckfessel, M.D. and Sellers, D. (2017), "The impact of Big 4 consulting on audit reporting lag and restatements", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 19-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/MAJ-02-2016-1321Download as .RIS
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