Investor confidence slips in auditors and markets

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The vast majority of investors remain confident in public company auditors, audited financial statements and the U.S. capital markets, but there are signs they are losing some confidence in the past year, according to a new survey by the Center for Audit Quality.

The CAQ’s annual 2018 Main Street Investor Survey found that 81 percent of American investors indicated they have confidence that public company auditors are effective in their investor protection roles, but that’s down 3 percentage points from 2017. The 3 points is within the margin of error, however, so the CAQ doesn't consider it to be statistically significant. Meanwhile 75 percent of the investors surveyed said they have confidence in audited financial statements, but that too is down 3 percentage points from 2017. The CAQ conducted an online survey of 1,100 people with at least $10,000 invested in the capital markets, either directly or through their retirement plans.

Confidence in the U.S. capital markets declined even more than with audits, with 74 percent of U.S. investors saying they have confidence in U.S. capital markets broadly, but that was down 11 percentage points from 2017. Meanwhile, 78 percent of the investors surveyed indicated they have confidence in U.S. companies that are publicly traded, but that was down 5 percentage points from last year’s survey.

On the other hand, the perception of overseas markets appears to be rising, with 56 percent of U.S. investors surveyed saying they have confidence in capital markets outside the U.S., up 2 percentage points from 2017.

“The public company auditing profession works hard each day to build investor confidence, and we are pleased to see that a strong majority of investors view independent auditors as effective parts of the system of investor protection,” said CAQ Executive Director Cindy Fornelli in a statement. “Investor confidence is a pillar of healthy capital markets. The independent financial statement audit helps give millions of Americans the confidence to invest in public companies so they can save for retirement, pay for their children’s education, and fuel our nation’s economic growth.”

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Audits Investments Audit preparation Cindy Fornelli CAQ