AuditAnalytics (available in WRDS) is a deep, multifaceted database containing data on thousands of auditors and the corporations they audit. Although the file can easily link auditors and the companies they audit, it has many more uses than a simple “Who Audits Whom” database.
Here are two examples of research questions that show off AuditAnalytics’ ability to analyze auditing in depth.
1. Restatements: Identify companies for which the restatement identified fraud.
The SEC can require a company to reissue its financial statements for reasons ranging from clerical errors to fraud. Here’s how to search AuditAnalytics for an answer.
From the list of modules displayed to the left, choose:
Audit and Compliance => Non-Reliance Restatements.
Now choose your search criteria.
Step 1: Enter Date Range (e.g. from 2004 to date)
Step 2: Choose option “Search Entire Database” (Other options here are to search for one or more companies by ticker or CIK number, or to upload a text file of such company identifiers).
Step 3: Choose Variables to display including “Res Fraud” and “Res Fraud Category Title List”
Click on “Manuals and Overviews” from the top of the screen to identify relevant variables and their definitions for each module. Here, “Res Fraud” indicates that a restatement identified fraud, and “Res Fraud Category Title List” describes the nature of the fraud.
Step 4: Select an output format, then click “Submit Query”.
We’ve displayed the first few entries of the report. A “1” in the “Resfraud” field indicates that a restatement was filed because of fraud. The actual restatement adjustments are frequently issued in an amended 10K report (10K/A). AIG, for example, was accused by the SEC of helping two companies commit accounting fraud. AIG filed their adjustments in Form 10-K/A for the year ended December 31, 2004, which was filed with the SEC on March 16, 2006.
2. Internal Controls: Identify companies that the SEC has described as having weak internal controls.
One of the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Section 404) requires management to make an annual assement of the effectiveness of their company’s internal control procedures. The SEC then determines the adequacy of the company’s assessments.
In this case, under Audit and Compliance select SOX 404 Internal Controls.
Step 1: Enter Date Range (e.g. 2004 to date)
Step 2: Choose option “Search Entire Database”
Step 3: Choose Variables to display including: “Count Weaknesses” (which is defined as indicating the number of material weaknesses identified).
Step 4: Select an output format
Here are the first few entries of a report sorted by the number of control weaknesses detected. The phrases describing the nature of weaknesses have been truncated. The “Weakness Codes” and “Weakness Phrases” correspond to much more extensive descriptions available in a taxonomy listed in “Manuals and Overviews”.
AuditAnalytics is a powerful tool for analyzing the details of corporate auditing and auditors. For more information, take a look at our Accounting Research Guide and our Business FAQ on Accounting and Auditing.