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Perceptions of factors affecting audit quality in the post-SOX UK regulatory environment

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1/02/2013
JournalAccounting and Business Research
Journal number1
Volume43
Number of pages26
Pages56-81
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Global repercussions of the Enron scandal and particularly the enactment of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) in the USA, resulted in significant changes in the UK regulatory regime for audit and corporate governance, including an increased role for audit committees and independent inspection of audit firms. UK-listed company chief financial officers, audit committee chairs (ACCs) and audit partners were surveyed in 2007 to obtain views on the impact of 36 economic and regulatory factors on audit quality post-SOX. Four hundred and ninety-eight usable responses were received, representing a response rate of 36%. All groups rated various audit committee interactions with auditors among the factors most enhancing audit quality. However, International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) and the audit inspection regime, aspects of the ‘standards-surveillance-compliance’ regulatory system, are viewed as less effective. Exploratory factor analysis reduces the 36 factors to nine independent dimensions: economic risk; audit committee activities; risk of regulatory action; audit firm ethics; economic independence of auditor; audit partner rotation; risk of client loss; audit firm size and, lastly, ISAs and audit inspection. Post-SOX regulations have introduced additional dimensions to the factors influencing audit quality. Respondents commented that aspects of the changed regime are largely process and compliance driven, with high costs for limited benefits, a finding consistent with regulatory over-reaction.