The Relation Between Auditor's Fees for Non-Audit Services and Earnings Quality

By Marilyn F. JohnsonKaren K. NelsonRichard M. Frankel
2002| Working Paper No. 1696

We examine the association between the provision of non-audit services and earnings quality. Because of concerns regarding the effect of non-audit services on financial reporting credibility, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued revised auditor independence rules requiring firms to disclose in their annual proxy statement the amount of fees paid to auditors for audit and non-audit services. Using data collected from proxy statements filed between February 5, 2001 and June 15, 2001, we present evidence that firms purchasing more non-audit services from their auditor are more likely to just meet or beat analysts forecasts and to report larger absolute discretionary accruals. However, the purchase of non-audit services is not associated with meeting other earnings benchmarks. We also find that the unexpected component of the non-audit to total fee ratio is negatively associated with stock returns on the filing date. These results are consistent with arguments that the provision of non-audit services strengthens an auditors economic bond with the client and that investors price this effect.