Audit rotation, information asymmetry and the role of political connections: international evidence
Source of Publication
Meditari Accountancy Research
Purpose: Audit rotation (AR) is a key policy initiative implemented in global jurisdictions to deal with concerns about audit quality. Auditing financial reports involves communicating attested value-relevant company information to investors, and hence audit quality plays a role in the quality of financial reporting information. This paper aims to investigate whether AR affects the degree of information asymmetry (IS) between investors. It further aims to examine whether voluntary AR results in less asymmetric information compared to mandatory AR. Additionally, it examines whether political connections moderate the association between AR and IS. Design/methodology/approach: The authors use data from publicly traded banks across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the period 2010-2018. The authors include several variables to control for corporate governance and other firm-specific characteristics by using country-year fixed-effects regression model. Findings: The authors find higher IS for banks that periodically rotate auditor, while banks voluntarily choose to rotate auditors obtain high-quality audits, which results in higher trading volume and lower stock return volatility, hence lower IS. The results suggest that when banks voluntarily choose to rotate auditors, investors perceive these banks as more committed to obtaining high-quality audits relative to mandatory AR. Providing higher quality audits enhances the credibility of reported information and thus reduce the level of IS. Moreover, IS following AR is higher for politically connected banks than for similar but politically unconnected banks. Finally, investors perceive voluntary AR as a disciplining tool, which mitigates IS. This mitigating role is not affected by bank political connectedness. Research limitations/implications: This study has limitations as the definition of AR could be interpreted as binary or too narrow, and hence it may not be appropriate to generalize findings to different contexts. Nonetheless, this study casts light on a new perspective to reconcile the existing mixed evidence on the influence of AR on IS and the moderating role of political connections. A further limitation is that because of data unavailability, the authors were unable to use other proxies (e.g. bid-ask spreads and analyst forecast dispersion) of IS. Practical implications: The present findings provide insight to regulators, policymakers and standard setters on the potential adverse effect of political connections on the role of AR in mitigating IS. The results underscore the importance of voluntary AR, and suggest that regulators, policymakers and standard setters encourage firms to rotate their auditors periodically. Originality/value: This study provides evidence in a setting that is unique at the economic, social and regulatory levels. Prior literature is lacking and has been centered on developed countries or focusing on single-country specifications. The data set of this study is unique and allows us to examine the interplay between political influence that arises through ownership and management roles of influential members of state.
Audit rotation, Emerging markets, GCC, Information asymmetry, Political connections
Tessema, Abiot and Abou-El-Sood, Heba, "Audit rotation, information asymmetry and the role of political connections: international evidence" (2022). All Works. 5237.
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