Save money to lose money? Implications of opting out of a voluntary audit review for a firm’s cost of debt

Yasemin Karaibrahimoglu, Gerald Lobo, Vlad-Andrei Porumb*, Shuo Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An audit review (AR) is a mechanism used by boards to assess the quality of interim financial reports on a timely basis. In Canada, the AR is voluntary, with listed firms mandated to disclose when they choose not to purchase additional audit verification. Given the relatively low cost of an AR, opting out of it can be regarded as a negative signal, especially in the context of lenders’ sensitivity to downside risk. Using a sample of 7,585 firm-year observations from 1,616 public firms in Canada over the period 2004-2015, we document that firms without a voluntary AR have a higher cost of debt than firms with an AR. Furthermore, after firms opt out of the AR, the increase in the cost of debt is accompanied by a rise in discretionary abnormal accruals and managers’ stock-based compensation. Moreover, no-AR firms are more likely to reduce post-switch private borrowing and have lower equity analyst following. Overall, we document benefits for managers who forgo the AR. Our study is the first to document that although listed borrowers that opt out of an AR have a higher cost of debt financing, they are concurrently able to engage in more earnings management and grant their managers higher stock-based compensation because of lower external monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Accounting Review
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • audit review
  • quarterly reports
  • cost of debt
  • public debt
  • private debt

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