“The determinants and consequences of auditors’ use of in-house specialists” by Dr. Miguel Minutti-Meza
Dr. Miguel Minutti-Meza
Chair of Accounting Department
Associate Professor of Accounting
University of Miami Herbert Business School
We examine auditors’ use of in-house specialists (employed by auditors). We use data from PCAOB inspections of global network audit firms during 2006 to 2018, a period in which the use of specialists in audits increased from 50% to 90%. We document that the use of specialists is predictably associated with client and audit team characteristics. Next, the use of specialists is associated with increases in audit fees and reductions in engagement profitability, suggesting that it is costly to involve specialists. Finally, the expected relation between use of specialists and audit quality is uncertain. Specialists bring expertise to complex issues, but academics and regulators argue that auditors may not properly supervise specialists. Our results support the latter argument; there is an association between the use of specialists and the incidence of procedural audit quality problems. However, increased coordination with specialists and the audit team’s experience partially mitigate these problems.