Auditing Goodwill in the Post-Amortization Era: Challenges for Auditors
Posted: 2 Aug 2014 Last revised: 24 Jun 2018
Date Written: December 13, 2017
The elimination of goodwill amortization in 2001 brought about significant change in how companies are required to account for goodwill. This change in accounting also brought with it new challenges for auditors, namely evaluating the reasonableness of management’s assumptions related to goodwill valuation. In addition to introducing technical challenges, this task is particularly difficult given the misalignment in incentives it creates between managers who likely prefer to avoid recording an impairment and auditors who seek to minimize the bias in management’s impairment testing. This study focuses on the consequences of the misaligned incentives that auditors face under the current goodwill assessment process. We find that the decision to record a goodwill impairment is associated with an increase in the probability of auditor dismissal. Consistent with the presence of significant friction with clients, our results also indicate that the likelihood of auditor dismissals is negatively related to the favorability of the impairment decision. Furthermore, we find that companies impairing goodwill prior to dismissing auditors subsequently employ auditors that are, on average, more favorable to clients in their impairment decisions.
Keywords: auditing; goodwill impairment; auditor dismissals
JEL Classification: M41, M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation