University of Richmond Accounting Professor Ashley Austin Receives Grant for Research on Fraudulent Financial Reporting

December 7, 2021

Ashley Austin headshotUniversity of Richmond — Ashley Austin, an accounting professor in the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business, has received grant support for her research on detecting fraud during the audit process.

The grant, awarded by KPMG, will support Austin’s project, “Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk: Improving Auditors’ Fraud Detection with Coaching in a Culture of Challenge,” which she is coauthoring with Tina Carpenter, a colleague at the University of Georgia.

“When company managers commit fraud, they often actively conceal the fraud from the auditors. Thus, it is important that auditors challenge management and ask for additional evidence if they notice anything that seems suspicious – even if the auditor expects management to react negatively to the request,” said Austin. “Our research will help audit firms promote a culture in which their auditors are more likely to make these challenges of management and ultimately detect fraud.”

KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax, and advisory services. Part of the support includes access to KPMG auditors as research participants.

“Even before the pandemic, access to audit professionals was valuable for conducting this type of experiment-based research, but during the pandemic it has become especially challenging,” said Austin. “Since auditors face a unique set of incentives and constraints that affect their decision-making, access to these professionals is critical when researching how to improve auditor decision-making.”

Once completed, Austin and her co-author will travel to KPMG headquarters to present their findings to KPMG professionals.

Austin has taught at the University of Richmond since 2016. She is a licensed CPA and has worked as a senior associate in the audit practice.