This study examines how auditors react to clients' engagement in classification shifting which refers to the intentional misallocation of line items within the income statement. We find that classification shifting is positively associated with audit fees, audit report lags, the issuance of a modified audit opinion, and auditor resignations. Additional analyses show that auditors' responses to multiple-year classification shifting are similar to our main findings. We further find that classification shifting is associated with a higher likelihood of financial misstatements in the classification shifting year, and future announcements of financial restatements. We also find that the probability of future restatements is even higher when audit clients engage in both classification shifting and real earnings management. Overall, our results imply that auditors become more cautious in response to audit clients' classification shifting behavior.
SYNOPSIS: Legislators and regulators have expressed concerns about the effect of long auditor tenure on audit quality. There is little direct evidence on investors’ perceptions about long auditor tenure. In this paper, we use shareholder votes on auditor ratification as a proxy for investor perceptions about audit quality. We find, using data from 635 firms during 2006, that shareholder votes against (or abstaining from) auditor ratification are positively correlated with auditor tenure. The results suggest that shareholders view long auditor tenure as adversely affecting audit quality, and provide an empirical basis for arguments related to the impact of long auditor tenures on shareholders’ perceptions of audit quality.