SYNOPSIS

The accuracy of audit reports is often viewed as a signal for audit quality. Prior research shows that in the context of going-concern reporting in audit markets dominated by public firms, some auditors are more accurate than others (e.g., Big N firms). This study is the first large-scale study that investigates going-concern reporting accuracy in an audit market dominated by private firms. The threat of reputation and litigation costs incentivizes auditors to report accurately in markets dominated by public firms, but such incentives are largely absent in markets dominated by private firms. Hence, reporting accuracy in such markets might not vary across auditors. Our main analysis is based on a sample of 1,375 Belgian firms that ceased to exist within one year from the financial statement date. Our results show that the frequency of Type II misclassification does not vary across auditor types (Big 4 versus non-Big 4, audit firm and partner industry specialists versus non-specialists, more experienced versus less experienced, and female versus male auditors). Overall, these results cast doubt on the existence of quality differences among auditors in audit markets dominated by private firms.

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