The Effect of Client Importance and Auditor Tenure on Accounting Conservatism: Evidence from Chinese Companies

  •  Bing Yu    
  •  Mary Jane Lenard    


The concern over accounting regulation has resulted in studies of auditor independence and audit quality, as measured by auditor tenure, accounting conservatism, and the type of audit firm the client employs (Big 4 or non-Big 4).In this study, we continue the line of research on conservatism and auditor tenure by examining whether accounting conservatism is related to auditor tenure for Chinese firms. We extend the studies by Jenkins and Velury (2008) and Li (2010) in order to examine Chinese firms that have non-Big 4 auditors, and we investigate whether the association exists for the most important and least important clients of these audit firms. Our findings indicate that least important clients employ more conservative accounting techniques as auditor tenure increases. For the most important clients, there is less conservatism, compared to the least important clients, in the early years of the auditor’s tenure. Our study provides more information about the regulatory issue of mandatory audit firm rotation because our results suggest that mandatory auditor rotation may have an adverse effect on the least important clients of these Chinese audit firms.

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