The impact of key audit matter reporting on analyst forecast accuracy and forecast dispersion: evidence from Chinese listed firms

Zhiying Hu, Yan Li, Beixin Lin, Gary Kleinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the decision usefulness of key audit matters (KAMs) disclosures from the perspective of financial analysts. Design/methodology/approach: Using data from two groups of Chinese-listed firms subject to different audit standards, the authors use a quasi-natural experiment and the difference-in-differences approach to examine the impact of KAMs on analyst forecasts. The authors also conduct a textual analysis on management disclosures as well as on the content of KAM disclosures. Findings: The results of this study show that both forecast errors and dispersion have significantly declined for the firms disclosing KAMs compared to the firms without such disclosures. Further analysis presents evidence that KAM disclosures have resulted in simultaneous increase in management disclosures and audit quality. In addition, auditor characteristics, such as auditor’s dependence on client fees and its industry specialization, and firm’s characteristics, such as its ownership structure and its social connection with the auditor, appear to affect the informativeness of KAM disclosures. The authors also perform content analysis of KAMs to provide additional insight. Research limitations/implications: As AH firms are required to adopt the expanded audit report one year before A shares firms, by design, there is only one year in which these two types of companies differ. Therefore, the results without overgeneralizing the impact of KAM disclosures should be interpreted. In addition, this study involves the Chinese market alone and, therefore, may be affected by factors peculiar to the functioning of the Chinese economy and financial markets. Originality/value: The main contribution of this study lies in highlighting the salience of KAM context in shaping the relationship between auditors, managers and analysts and its collective impact on information environment. The findings of this study are significant in that they help establish the importance of KAM disclosures in helping to assure that higher quality financial information is available to capital markets, as well as information that is otherwise unavailable given disclosure mandates in China. This study adds to the literature on the importance of providing additional means of safeguarding auditor independence and on the value of auditor expertise in providing useful content in audit disclosures. Moreover, the findings suggest that the expanded audit report can help reduce the level of asymmetric information, especially for state-owned entities. They provide insight on how the new audit rule influences managers and auditors communicating complex accounting matters as well as the moderating effect of the social connections between auditors and firm executives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-313
Number of pages26
JournalManagerial Auditing Journal
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Analyst forecast dispersion
  • Analyst forecast errors
  • DID
  • Key audit matters (KAMs)

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