Events that occur after the balance sheet date but before the audit report is signed and dated (subsequent events) may have a material effect on the financial statements and their users. New SEC reporting requirements reduce the time between the balance sheet and report dates, limiting the availability of subsequent event evidence. Professional groups, including the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), question whether sufficient evidence will exist if subsequent event information is not available. They fear that decreased availability of subsequent event evidence may lower the quality of both audit judgments and financial reporting.
Scant prior research examines auditors' perceptions about subsequent events. Our study examines how auditors search for and discover subsequent event evidence and factors that influence this process. Responses from auditors representing all Big 4 firms and one national firm suggest that subsequent event evidence is important. Auditors generally follow procedures recommended by audit standards; however, recommended procedures uncover subsequent event evidence with low frequency. Implications for future research are discussed.