The accounting profession has come under increased scrutiny over recent years about the growing number of non-audit fees received from audit clients and the possible negative impact of such fees on auditor independence. The argument advanced is that providing substantial amounts of non-audit services to clients may make it more likely that auditors concede to the wishes of the client management when difficult judgments are made. Such concerns are particularly salient in the case of reporting decisions related to going-concern uncertainties for financially stressed clients. This study empirically examines audit reports provided to financially stressed companies in the United Kingdom and the magnitude of audit and non-audit service fees paid to the company’s auditors. We find that the magnitude of both audit fees and non-audit fees are significantly associated with the issuance of a going-concern modified audit opinion. In particular, financially stressed companies with high audit fees are more likely to receive a going-concern modified audit opinion, whereas companies with high non-audit fees are less likely to receive a goingconcern modified audit opinion. Additional analyses indicate that the results are generally robust across alternative model and variable specifications. Overall, evidence supports the contention that high non-audit fees have a detrimental effect on going-concern reporting judgments for financially stressed U.K. companies.
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- audit fees
- going concern