CEO compensation risk and timely loss recognition

Paul Brockman, Tao Ma, Jianfang Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Prior studies demonstrate that high CEO compensation risk encourages managers to engage in risk-seeking behavior, thus intensifying agency conflicts between creditors and borrowers. We argue and document that accounting conservatism plays an important role in mitigating debt holder and shareholder conflicts over asset substitution arising from high CEO compensation risk. Our empirical results show that firms with high CEO compensation risk tend to use more timely loss recognition and this positive relationship is more pronounced for firms with high leverage. Additional results show that the positive relationship between CEO compensation risk and borrowing costs is reduced for firms using timely loss recognition, suggesting that creditors perceive timely loss recognition as a risk-reducing mechanism. Using the passage of FAS 123R as a quasi-natural experiment on managerial compensation risk, we find a significant reduction in the use of timely loss recognition for firms experiencing a decrease in CEO compensation risk after the passage of FAS 123R. Lastly, we show that timely loss recognition is positively associated only with the compensation risk of the firm's primary decision maker (i.e., its CEO) and not with the compensation risk of subordinates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-236
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Business Finance and Accounting
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Accounting conservatism
  • Asset substitution
  • CEO compensation risk
  • Timely loss recognition


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