Audit Committee Financial Literacy: A Work in Progress

Article Abstract: We develop a classification to score the potential of corporate audit committees to he financially literate, as defined in this paper, based on listing requirements of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), as promulgated late in 1999. We score audit committees of approximately 300large companies in 2000 and 2004, and of a subsample in 1996 as well.

We find that scores did not change between 1996 and 2000 but have improved significantly since that time. The audit committees have room for improved financial literacy in the sense that we define. We find evidence of superior stock market returns to companies who have improved the potential for financial literacy, as we measure it, of their audit committees over the last four years. The improvers in our sample enjoyed annualized abnormal, excess returns of 4.6 percent per year more than
those who did not improve.

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