THE AUDIT EXPECTATION GAP IN NIGERIA
The purpose of this study is to highlight factors contributing to the audit expectation gap in Nigeria. The audit expectation gap is the difference in perception between auditors and users of audited financial statements concerning the nature of auditing. Unfortunately, there have been criticisms of the auditor by the public from which opinions have emerged over the years due to business failure. It seems the users have a different idea of what auditing should be. This is what has led to the audit expectation gap. The factors contributing to this gap that are of particular concern to the researcher in this study are uncertainty about the responsibilities of external auditors, misunderstanding of audit report messages, uncertainty about the extent to which audit reports may be used in making investment decisions and independence of auditors. This study adopts a survey research design. Even though the study covers the business landscape of Nigeria, a sample size of four hundred (400) persons made up of one hundred (100) each of auditors, accountants in business, bankers and investors/stockbrokers was selected conveniently as time permitted from some accounting firms, banks, investment houses and companies in Lagos and Ogun States. The research instrument used was the questionnaire. The data collected was analyzed using one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Factor Analysis. It was discovered that there is a statistically significant difference between the opinion of auditors and audit beneficiaries in Nigeria with respect to the statutory role of external auditors, reliability on audit reports for investment decision making, nature and meaning of audit report messages scores and independence scores. Factor analysis revealed that the audit expectation gap in Nigeria is multi faceted but consists mainly of misunderstanding of the external auditor’s responsibilities by the users of audited financial statements. From the findings, we recommended that users should be educated on the responsibilities of auditors, the extent to which they can rely on auditor’s report and nature of audit services. Also, because auditors’ independence is crucial in maintaining public confidence in the profession, the number of years an auditor can provide audit services to a particular client be reduced and there should be limits on auditor’s provision of audit and non-audit services at the same time to a particular client.
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