SYNOPSIS: We examine the relation between industry specialist auditors and cost-of-debt financing using a national and city level industry specialist framework. Consistent with the assumption that higher audit quality is associated with lower information risk, which benefits clients in raising debt capital, we find that firms audited by city level industry specialist auditors, either alone or jointly with national level industry specialist auditors, enjoy significantly lower cost-of-debt financing measured by both credit rating and bond spread. Our results suggest that, compared to clients of non-industry specialists, firms’ odds of worse credit ratings are 0.859 (0.664) times lower, and their bond spreads are 17 (16) basis points lower if they are clients of city-level-only (joint national and city level) industry specialists. In addition, our evidence shows that, for joint national and city level industry specialists, both information and insurance roles are significant to reduce cost-of-debt financing.

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