This study analyzes the severity of Internal Control over Financial Reporting deficiencies (Deficiencies, Significant Deficiencies and Material Weaknesses) in a sample of Italian listed companies, in the period 2007- 2012. Using proprietary data the severity of the deficiencies is tested for account-specific, entity level and information technology controls and for industries (manufacturing and services vs finance industries). The results on ICD severity is compared with one of the most frequent ICD (Acc_Period End/Accounting Policies): for account-specific, ICD in revenues, purchase, fixed assets and intangible, loans and insurance are more severe while ICD in Inventory are less severe. Differences in ICD severity have been found in the characteristic account: ICD in loan and insurance for finance industry and ICD in revenue, purchase for manufacturing and service industry are more severe. Finally, we found that ICD in entity level and information technology controls are less severe than account specific ICD in all industries. However, the results on entity level and information technology deficiencies could also mean that the importance of these types of control are under-evaluated by the manufacturing and service companies.
Keywords: Internal control; financial reporting; significant deficiencies; material weaknesses. First submission: 27 January 2014, accepted: 09 June 2014.