Selected Behavioural Factors in Client-Initiated Auditor Changes: The Client-Auditor Perspectives

Peter J Baldacchino, Rosalene Caruana, Simon Grima, Frank H. Bezzina
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XX, Issue 2A, 16-47, 2017
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/627


The objective of the paper is to compare the perspectives of both external audit clients and auditors themselves with respect to the nature and significance of two behavioural factors, the client-auditor working relationship and auditor accessibility, which have been identified in the literature as affecting client-initiated auditor changes.A mixed methodology was employed using both online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. On the part of audit clients, a questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 350 Malta-based companies, out of which 74 responses were received. Seven of the companies also backed up their responses with an interview. On the part of practitioners, a questionnaire was sent to 668 warranted auditors, out of which 124 responses were received. Four of these practitioners also backed up their responses with an interview.Both auditors and clients recognise the importance of clients establishing sound working relationships with all auditing parties - such relationships to include elements such as mutual trust, auditor objectivity and competence - but particularly with the audit manager (as per clients) and audit partner (as per auditors). Both parties also attached high importance to auditor accessibility, this mostly signifying being ready to offer their clients immediate help whenever necessary. Clearly accessibility is not determined by physical presence as much as auditors think, but by each party being reached and responsive with ease, more so during office hours, and increasingly by e-mail.Auditors seem to be more focused on abiding by professional standards, while allotting less importance to other attributes evidently more appreciated by clients, such as personality ones including communication skills. Auditors have to work more on the non-professional aspects of both behavioural factors if they are to secure a higher probability of being reappointed.

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