Financial Statements not Required
Dr. Andrew G. Sutherland
Associate Professor of Accounting
Sloan School of Management Cambridge
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(with Michael Minnis and Felix Vetter)
The U.S. SME lending market has changed considerably over the past 25 years, both in terms of the types of lenders providing credit and the borrower information available to the lenders. Motivated by these developments, we examine changes in the use of verified financial statements (VFS) in this market, where borrower audits are not mandated. We first document a stark decline in the collection of VFS by banks. We then show that, although the sensitivity of lending to CPA supply is far greater for banks than nonbanks, this difference diminishes over time. Finally, we link this trend to specific state-level regulatory and technological developments that raised the cost of CPA services and introduced substitute information sources, respectively. Our results illustrate an implication of positive accounting theory: shifts in CPA service supply and innovations in information sources can render VFS less efficient for contracting.