The Expectation Gap Regarding Auditor's Report: Focusing on the Financial Statement Users' Expectations for Auditor's Work

Jakob Lykke Wiuff & Martin Aa. Juell-Hansen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this master thesis is to examine whether an expectation gap regarding auditor's report exists and, if so, the scope of the expectation gap and how to reduce the gap. This master thesis is focusing on respectively the financial statement users’ expectations and the auditor’s perception of their own performance regarding an audit report and a compilation report.
Our theoretical understanding is based on Brenda Porter’s and Bent Warming-Rasmussen’s theories concerning the expectation gap. Based on the acknowledged theories concerning the expectation gap, as mentioned above, and the laws and financial standards applied, we inquired 20.000 companies about their expectations for auditor’s work concerning an audit report and a compilation report. Approximately 3% of those surveyed participated and completed the survey. We also asked 527 auditors regarding their perception of their own performance, which we compared to the answers from the companies. Approximately 44% of the surveyed auditors participated and completed the survey. In addition to this we conducted two interviews with bank advisers regarding their point of view on the auditor’s statement.
The questionnaire included 15 actions regarding the auditor's work. We asked the financial statement users to state their expectations on whether the respective actions were required by law or financial standards. Furthermore, we asked the auditors if they performed these 15 actions when conducting respectively an audit report and a compilation report. Furthermore, the survey included questions regarding the respondent’s stance related to audit companies and auditors in general as well as the respondent’s suggestions to reduce the expectation gap.
Based on our analysis of the respondent’s answers and statements we found only one existing expectation gap regarding the audit report. On the other hand, we concluded that there are several small expectation gaps. These small expectation gaps are defined as expectation ditches by Bent Warming-Rasmussen. In connection to the compilation report we identified 6 expectation gaps among the 15 actions in relation to the auditor’s work on a compilation report. Through analysis of the collected data and the additional depositions we discovered that the above-mentioned ditches primarily originate from financial statements users’ lack of knowledge and/or comprehension of current laws and financial standards. We named this the comprehension gap.
Based on the obtained and analyzed data regarding the auditor’s work in connection with a compilation report, we evolved our own theory concerning the expectation gap due to a difference between the acknowledged theories and our collected and analyzed data. The disparity derives from an identified overperformance by auditors according to our data, and the acknowledged theories describing an underperformance. The theory, which we call the insight gap, revolves around the gap between 1) the auditor’s actual duties in accordance with the laws and financial standards applied, 2) the auditor’s overperformance and 3) the financial statement users’ expectations of the auditor’s work.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2021
Number of pages120