The impact of corporate governance on auditor independence: A study of audit committess in UK listed companies.
The thesis explores the relationship between Audit Committees and External Auditors’ fees of a sample of FTSE 350 companies in the UK for the period of 2005-2006. This is achieved by providing answers to three main research questions. First, what are the determinants of Audit Committee activity? Second, what is the relationship between Audit Committee activity and external auditors’ fees? Third, what is the relationship between audit and non-audit fees and how does the Audit Committee affect these? Starting out with an Agency Theoretical background, the study found evidence consistent with the views that a higher proportion of Independent Non-Executive Directors on the board enhances Audit Committees’ activity, but the presence of financial expertise on the committee was not found to be statistically significant in explaining its activity. The thesis also documented evidence that shows that Audit Committee activity is inversely related to managerial ownership of shares in companies. In line with the economic theory of auditing, the researcher used fees paid to the external auditor to proxy for the level of economic bonding between auditors and their clients. Higher fees are interpreted to indicate compromised independence. Five alternative measures of economic bonding were used. The researcher found a stable and statistically significant positive relationship between measures of economic bonding and Audit Committee activity. This finding is consistent with the view that Audit Committees buy more services from the auditors in order to enhance auditing and reporting quality. Strong positive relationships between audit and non-audit services and vice versa were found using a single equation fees model but these relationships were not consistent when the researcher controlled for endogeneity between audit and non audit fees using Simultaneous Equation Models (SEM). Audit Committee activity was not statistically important in these relationships. This evidence taken together supports the proposition that economies of scope exist in the joint provision of both audit and non-auditing services to the same client. Finally the thesis also documents evidence that suggests that knowledge spill-over flows from non-audit services to auditing services and that auditor do not use audit as a loss leader.
- PhD