Purpose: This paper aims to address a topical and controversial issue, namely, the degree of conformity with the new auditor reporting requirements in Australia and the extent of variations in the reporting of key audit matters (KAMs) by Australian firms.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper compares the 64 elements identified in the applicable standards with the auditor’s report from the sampled companies to determine the degree to which the top 200 firms listed on the Australian Stock Exchange are complying with the requirements of the new audit report. This paper investigates KAM disclosures within and across industries.
Findings: The results indicate that there is a high degree of conformity with the new reporting framework, yet significant variations in the contents of the report, particularly in KAM disclosures. This paper observes that the number of KAMs and their extent of disclosure generally varies within industries. The types of KAMs presented vary both within and across industries. This paper further provides evidence that auditors have a tendency of not disclosing negative KAMs and tend to avoid negative wordings when describing KAMs. This paper also finds that there are significant differences in the placement of various types of KAMs in the audit report.
Practical implications: These findings have important policy implications for the standard-setters, regulators, auditors and users of financial reports on the adequacy of the new auditor reporting framework.
Originality/value: This study is one of the first to examine the degree of conformity with the new audit reporting model in Australia.
- Audit reforms
- Audit reports
- Key audit matters