Title

The Usefulness of Off-Balance Sheet Variables As Predictors of Auditors’ Going Concern Opinions: An Empirical Analysis

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-1-1999

Abstract

Accounting literature is replete with quantitative models that use financial ratios to identify the probability of a going concern qualification. These studies, however, ignore qualitative cues that auditors use to identify going concern problems and mitigating factors (sound financial plans etc.) that auditors take into account in their choice of report. Tests whether, in the presence of financial distress, non-financial cues play an important role in auditors’ choice. Results indicate that non-financial variables can be used to discriminate between the auditor's decision to issue the going concern qualified versus the clean report. Helps company management understand how auditors evaluate their clients and the importance of the qualitative criteria used in their evaluation. Can be used to predict the most probable outcome prior to the external audit. Second, facilitates understanding of the non-financial red flags that could trigger the going concern report. Third, can be used to analyze potential acquisition targets, and, if the acquisition target is still otherwise desirable, be used in pricing negotiations. Fourth, can be applied to aspects of the firm's own division's operations in order to enable the internal audit department to better allocate its own investigational and problem-solving resources. Finally, the fact that qualitative factors have power in predicting the going concern modified report suggests that company decision makers can evaluate others even if the auditor for political or other reasons has chosen not to render a modified report.

DOI

10.1108/02686909910280190

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