The appearance of independence is an important facet of the regulation of auditor independence. The authors conducted a research study to gauge how some financial statement users—loan officers—view and make decisions based on loan proposals that present various types of relationships between the applicant, the auditor that performs the external audit, and the auditor that performs the internal audit function (whether performed in-house or outsourced to the hypothetical loan applicant's external auditor).

The results are insightful: The closer the relationship between the external auditor and the audit client, the higher the perception of inappropriateness, and the less likely the loan officer is to approve the application. The findings support the current direction of discussion about auditor independence rules, and the authors draw thoughtful conclusions about their study's wider implications.

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Copyright © 2002 CPA Journal. This article first appeared in The CPA Journal 72, no. 4 (April 2002): 20-25.

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