THE DETERMINANTS OF AUDIT FEES AND REPORT LAG: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF EGYPT AND THE UK
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The determinants of audit fees and report lag: A comparative study of Egypt and the UK Despite the occurrence of recent economic and political events such as the global financial crisis and Arab spring in the Middle East, researchers have not addressed the effects of such events on the auditing profession. That is has given a motive to this study to explore this point of research. This study has three main objectives. The first objective is to investigate the determinants of audit fees and audit report timeliness in the Egyptian and UK contexts. The second objective is to point out how the economic and political events could affect these determinants. The third objective is to make a comparison between the response of auditors towards economic and political instability in both countries. These objectives are set to solve the research problem of this study which is to investigate how the price behaviour of audit fees and report timeliness can vary in two different contexts: Egypt and the UK, and to highlight how auditors respond to such economic (Global Financial Crisis) and political events (Egyptian Revolution). A special attention has been addressed to tourism industry while investigating audit pricing and timeliness decisions throughout this study for two reasons. First, tourism industry play a critical role for the economy of many developing and developed countries. Second, tourism industry is highly affected by any economic and political events. For these reasons, tourism industry is surrounded by high risk during the economic or political instability, and thus this might result in special procedures and decisions taken by the auditors regarding tourism industry clients during instable periods. To take into account the most recent economic and political events, the study sample covers the period of six financial years from 2008 to 2013. This sample period has been chosen to capture the global financial crisis that has taken place during 2008-2009 and also to investigate the effects of the Egyptian revolution that has taken place on January 25, 2011, and subsequent political events. The study sample includes 212 Egyptian companies listed in the Egyptian stock market and the top 350 companies (FTSE 350) listed in the London Stock Exchange. For guaranteeing the preciseness of the findings, advanced panel data Prais-Winsten statistical analysis technique has been used throughout this study. Results of this study reveal consistency between Egypt and UK in most signs of coefficients of audit fees determinants. However, a lot of differences exist between the audit report lag determinants in the Egyptian and UK context that suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be generalized in audit report lag determinants for various countries. Despite that tourism is a very risky industry that is easily affected by economic and political instability, results reported in Egypt and UK reveal that audit fees charged and audit delay reported for tourism did not differ from other industries in both contexts. Results also reveal that Big N auditing firms in the UK have competitive advantages of not charging an audit fee premium and offering a more timely audit report than non-big N. These advantages increase the demand of Big N in the UK and increase their dominance. On the other side, in Egypt, Big N auditing firms do not offer such advantage of timely audit reports than non-big N, besides, they charge their clients with audit fee premium. That enabled medium sized and small auditing firms to penetrate the Egyptian auditing market and increase their market share, and thus, Big N dominance is not high in the Egyptian audit market as that in the UK. Different auditor responses to global financial crisis (GFC) have been documented in both countries. As auditors in Egypt decreased their audit fees and offered more timely audit report to face the economic recession and the anxiety of investors accompanied with the GFC. However, neither the pricing of auditing services nor the audit report lag have been affected during the GFC in the UK audit market. According to the results of this study, during the Egyptian Revolution, auditors tended to charge audit fees premium without increasing/decreasing audit delay. This implies that the increase in audit fees during revolution was a risk premium due to the instability in economic and political conditions and was not accompanied by any increase in audit effort and delay.
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