Voluntary Audits: How does it Affect Firms and the Society?

Mikkel Ravn Michaelsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Danish government implemented a change in the law to give certain firms the opportunity of voluntary audits. The change was implemented in 2006 and later, in 2010, the limits were raised to give more companies the possibility. Not many firms choose not to be audited at the beginning but in 2013 the scene changed and in 2015 more than 93.000 companies was not being audited. The effects of voluntary audits are just now starting to surface because of the large number of companies who now chooses not to be audited. This made me want to analyze what these effects were and if they went as planned. The paper contains both primary and secondary data where the primary is a survey of the firms use of voluntary audits. The secondary data is other papers on the topic, articles, books etc. The data is going to complement each other to ensure a high quality in the data used throughout the thesis. In the theoretical part of the thesis, I defined when a company meets the requirements for voluntary audits in Denmark and used the agent/principal theory to explain why we have audits. Moreover, I explained the differences in declarations used by the auditors and with which security they are given. Lastly I briefly touched on the term “going concern” and what an auditor needs to do according to the standards. The analytical part was used to take a closer look at the firms attitude towards voluntary audits and how this effects the Danish society. My survey showed that auditors still have a high credibility amongst the Danish companies. This statement is confirmed in another study prepared by FSR, the Danish auditors association. More than 50% of the companies in my study still choses to be audited, even if it is voluntary. The main reason is that audit gives the annual report more value for money. The companies that chooses not to be audited gives cost of audit as the main reason. The credit institutes in Denmark on average gives firms with an audited annual report a higher credit rating than companies with none. A quick count shows that when a company owes more than 3-3,5 million DKK, the cost saved by not being audited is lower than the increase in cost to debt. The auditors are great at foreseeing bankruptcy. This is shown as the auditors have made a statement about “going concern” in more than 70% of the bankruptcies that occurred in less than a year from the audit. Moreover, the auditors foresaw nearly half of the bankruptcies that occurred later than a year. LEMPELSE AF REVISIONSPLIGTEN 15. maj 2017 MIKKEL RAVN MICHAELSEN 5 Many studies show that a lot of financial data is lost when firms are opting out of audits. These studies assume that you can compare companies that is audited with those how opt out. This also relates to errors in tax payments, which auditors corrects when they audit firms. These corrections are lost then the companies are choosing not to be audited and the result is less tax payments from companies without auditing. My discussion on the pros and cons of voluntary audits show an increase in companies who opt out of audits. This then calls for more control and monitoring of the Danish companies, to ensure a high quality in the financial information and correct tax payments. The future contains a lot of new software and hardware that can give a much-needed help in assuring this high-quality information.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages100