SYNOPSIS

We examine the likely effects of a regulatory requirement for the engagement partner to be personally identified in the audit report. We develop a model in which the engagement partner determines the level of resources devoted to the audit and whether to report aggressively. As long as the partner does not personally suffer reputation damages arising from aggressive reporting, the partner makes decisions that are optimal from the firm's perspective. However, the identification of the partner misaligns the incentives between the partner and the firm. We find that audit report accuracy should increase because engagement partners will find it optimal to gather more evidence. However, engagement partners may report more conservatively than the firm would prefer, as a result of misaligned incentives between the partner and the firm. Interestingly, the effects of a partner identification requirement are predicted to be more pronounced for large firms than for small firms, possibly affecting audit market competition and concentration. Overall, a partner identification requirement is likely to decrease the welfare of partners and firms and will not necessarily be socially optimal.

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