SYNOPSIS

This paper provides empirical evidence that the proportion of shareholder votes against the ratification of the auditor is informative to investors' perception of the auditor-client relationship. We find that lower shareholder approval of the auditor is associated with a negative market reaction to the 8-K announcement of the auditor ratification vote. Additionally, we find that the market reaction is more negative when a high level of auditor dissatisfaction is likely a surprise to investors, such as when audit and auditor characteristics suggest that the auditor provides high audit quality. We provide confirming evidence that withheld votes are associated with a higher likelihood of a future auditor dismissal and that the market reaction to the dismissal is more positive for firms with lower shareholder approval of the auditor.

JEL Classifications: G34; G30; M40.

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