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Factors Affecting Audit Quality in the 2007 UK Regulatory Environment: Perceptions of Chief Financial Officers, Audit Committee Chairs and Audit Engagement Partners

Vivien Beattie, Stella Fearnley and Tony Hines

No 2012-29, SIRE Discussion Papers from Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE)

Abstract: In line with global changes, the UK regulatory regime for audit and corporate governance has changed significantly since the Enron scandal, with an increased role for audit committees and independent inspection of audit firms. UK listed company chief financial officers (CFOs), audit committee chairs (ACCs) and audit partners (APs) were surveyed in 2007 to obtain views on the impact of 36 economic and regulatory factors on audit quality. 498 usable responses were received, representing a response rate of 36%. All groups rated various audit committee interactions with auditors among the factors most enhancing audit quality. Exploratory factor analysis reduces the 36 factors to nine uncorrelated dimensions. In order of extraction, these are: economic risk; audit committee activities; risk of regulatory action; audit firm ethics; economic independence of auditor; audit partner rotation; risk of client loss; audit firm size; and, lastly, International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) and audit inspection. In addition to the activities of the audit committee, risk factors for the auditor (both economic and certain regulatory risks) are believed to most enhance audit quality. However, ISAs and the audit inspection regime, aspects of the ‘standards-surveillance compliance’ regulatory system, are viewed as less effective. Respondents commented that aspects of the changed regime are largely process and compliance driven, with high costs for limited benefits, supporting psychological bias regulation theory that claims there is overconfidence that a useful regulatory intervention exists.

Date: 2010-04
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