SYNOPSIS: In this study, we investigate whether individual auditors are associated with the comparability of their clients’ financial statements, based on a sample of Chinese companies audited by ten large audit firms. We demonstrate that individual auditors have an incremental effect on comparability, beyond the office-level effect. We also find that the style of individual auditors is stronger when they are affiliated with Big 4 audit firms (compared to non-Big 4 large audit firms) and when they are industry experts. In addition, two possible channels of enhanced comparability are identified: (1) clients’ accounting flexibility, which provides opportunities for auditors to exert influences; and (2) individual auditors’ characteristics, such as age, position, and academic degree, which affect auditors’ abilities to exert influence. Our results are robust to alternative comparability and industry expertise measures, to various sampling methods, and to corrections for potential endogeneity problems.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Financial statement comparability
- Individual auditors
- Industry expertise