Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting, Payame Noor University, Iran

2 MSc Accounting, Department of Accounting, Payame Noor University, ,Iran


In this research, the relationship between the discovery of audit distortions and the readability of financial reports has been investigated, as well as the moderating effect of management ability on this relationship. This research is practical in terms of its purpose, and the correlation method is causal (post-event). In this research, the data of 129 companies listed on the Iran Stock Exchange during a seven-year period (from 2015 to 2021) were gathered to test the hypotheses using panel data. The collection of information in this study was done using library methods. Related data to measure the variables were collected from the Codal website and financial statements of the companies. Basic calculations were done in Excel. Then, Stata software was used to test the research hypotheses. The results of the research show that the discovery of audit distortions has a direct and significant effect on the readability of financial reports. Additionally, the results indicate that the ability of managers can not only moderate the positive relationship between the discovery of audit distortions and the readability of financial reports, but also increase the intensity of this relationship.


A significant part of the companies' information is presented through the annual reports. A clear presentation of this amount of information is important for the clear understanding and interpretation of the information in the financial statements. There is a possibility that company managers change the readability of financial reports in order to attract the attention of investors, and control the perceptions of information users. The possibility of managers exploiting loopholes in accepted accounting principles and standards for personal gain necessitates a thorough evaluation and review by auditors. This evaluation aims to identify potential opportunities for fraud and weaknesses in these principles and standards for rectification. In this way, auditors can play an important role in making financial reports more readable through the quality of the audit. At the same time, the motivation and ability of managers to apply personal interests can also be an obstacle to high-quality auditing. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to examine the effect of audit quality on the readability of financial reports and to investigate how managers' ability can influence this relationship.
Research Question(s):
Does audit quality have a significant effect on the readability of financial reports?
Can managers' ability moderate the relationship between audit quality and readability of financial reports?

Literature Review

Blanco et al. (2021) stated in their research that when annual reports are less readable, auditors spend more effort on auditing financial statements. Furthermore, Hassan (2017) indicated that companies with capable managers publish more readable financial reports. Ghanizadeh et al. (2021) also concluded that financial knowledge and ability of managers have a positive and significant effect on audit quality.


The data needed for the research were collected through Rahvard Navin software and Codal website, as well as from the audited financial statements of the companies and their audit reports. The statistical population of the research consists of the companies listed on the Iran Stock Exchange. Thus, 129 companies were selected from the statistical population over seven years (903 observations) from those active between 2015 and 2021, after applying restrictions.


The findings of the research show that the increase in sensitivity of the auditors in their proceedings, which has led to the discovery of more and more accounting distortions and finally the improvement of audit quality, has led to effective communication with managers in choosing simple words and phrases. This results in an increase in the use of simple language and a reduction in the complexity of financial report content, thereby enhancing the readability of financial reports. Additionally, the ability of managers can not only moderate the positive relationship between audit quality and the readability of financial reports, but also increase the intensity of this relationship.


The readability of managers' explanatory reports is crucial for influencing information users. However, the absence of a universal standard for reading such reports presents management with numerous choices regarding content and even formatting. It is possible for managers to mislead the users of information when choosing the right decision by manipulating the readability of financial reports. This issue underscores the essential role of auditors, given its financial consequences and the potential for economic crises. Auditors play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of financial reports and mitigating opportunistic motives of managers. As the CEO is a key figure in the company's economy with significant influence, they can impact the company's value and profitability through their presentation of news and reports. Therefore, audit quality as one of the most important factors in the implementation of audit operations in audit institutions should be considered, so that the mission of auditing, which is ensuring financial statements, is carried out at the highest level of confidence. However, in situations where managers possess high abilities, there is a possibility of adjusting and being affected by this relationship. In this situation, there is a contradiction regarding the managers' ability to provide clear or complex reports and the quality of the audit. This issue originated from theories such as representation and stakeholders. Therefore, the moderating effect of managers' ability on the relationship between audit quality and readability of financial reports is important. In other words, capable managers in different situations send a positive sign of the company's status to the market by providing clear information and thus reduce agency costs. Thus, these managers have a greater ability to clearly express information to the market, which helps create a competitive advantage, maintain reputation, and foster self-motivation.


In general, the results of this research indicate that the quality of auditing has improved, and the ability of managers plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality and transparency of financial reports. Therefore, it can be said that audit quality is an important and influential variable in ensuring financial statements and gaining the trust of information users. Additionally, capable managers demonstrate a greater inclination towards information transparency due to their superior performance.


Main Subjects


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