This study examines whether auditor economic independence affects the information content of going concern audit reports in the European setting. We conduct an experiment where 80 experienced Spanish loan officers from the second largest European commercial bank review a loan request under two lending scenarios: (1) a potential borrower receiving an unqualified but modified going concern opinion, and (2) a potential borrower receiving a qualified going concern opinion. Auditor economic independence, measured by the provision of non-audit services (NAS), is manipulated (absence vs. presence of significant NAS). We find that a qualified going concern audit report is interpreted as a primary warning signal (death penalty). However, the provision of NAS acts as a second order mechanism that only activates loan officers' professional skepticism in the case of an unqualified but modified going concern report scenario. Therefore, we find evidence suggesting that the potential negative impact of a perceived lack of auditor independence depends on the nature of the audit report. Our findings have important implications for the European regulator, which is currently considering establishing an auditor independence regulation framework similar to that in the United States of America.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation|
|Publication status||Published - 2014 Apr|
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