Auditor benchmarking of client disclosures

Michael S. Drake, Phillip Lamoreaux, Phillip J. Quinn, Jacob R. Thornock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


We examine auditors’ disclosure benchmarking, which we define as auditors’ acquisition of nonclient financial statement information for the purpose of evaluating a client’s financial statement information. Employing a novel dataset that captures auditors’ access of nonclient annual and quarterly SEC filings on EDGAR, we predict and find that auditors engage in disclosure benchmarking when auditing clients are faced with higher levels of authoritative guidance, financial-reporting uncertainty, and litigation risk. Lastly, we predict that auditors incorporate the information they obtain into their audit. Consistent with our prediction, disclosure benchmarking is positively associated with a client’s financial statement disaggregation, and client footnotes exhibit greater comparability to targeted nonclients’ footnotes after disclosure benchmarking. Overall, this study offers an empirical look into the “black box” of the audit process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalReview of Accounting Studies
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Audit process
  • Client financial reporting
  • Disclosure benchmarking
  • EDGAR filings
  • Information acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

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