We examine the relationship between audit pricing and managerial tone as a proxy of source credibility. Prior research shows that source credibility influences auditors' perceptions of client risk. Textually analyzing annual letters to shareholders, we find that characteristics of managerial tone that reflect impaired source credibility are associated with higher audit fees. Additional tests, including a change analysis and controls for other managerial characteristics, future client performance, and aggressive accounting choices, corroborate and build on our inferences that managerial tone proxies for source credibility. Our study extends literature that uses corporate disclosures to measure managerial characteristics by showing that auditors price source credibility reflected in managerial tone. These findings are important because they empirically confirm that source credibility affects auditors' assessments of engagement risk and that analysis of tone can inform researchers, auditors, and investors who seek to enhance effectiveness and objectivity in assessing source credibility based on managerial tone.
JEL Classifications: G21; G34; M41.
Data Availability: The data in this study are available from public sources indicated in the paper.