Does Citizens’ Financial Literacy Relate to Bank Financial Reporting Transparency?
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In this study, we examine the relationship between financial literacy and bank financial reporting transparency for a sample of banks from the U.S. Following prior literature, we employ discretionary loan loss provisions (DLLP) as our primary measure of bank reporting transparency. We argue that the financial literacy of their customers can influence bank managers’ behaviors with respect to both the mechanics of the loan loss provisioning and their opportunistic actions. Financially literate customers represent more stable sources of funding and have more predictable loan loss provisioning that contributes to more persistent earnings. Financial literacy could also enhance customers’ ability to indirectly follow and monitor bank performance and risk-taking. Therefore, bank managers will be less likely to engage in opportunistic earnings manipulation. Following these arguments, we predict that citizens’ financial literacy is positively associated with bank financial reporting transparency. Consistent with our prediction, we find that the magnitude of bank DLLP is negatively related to state-level financial literacy. Moreover, the association between financial literacy and DLLP is higher for banks with more retail deposits and larger consumer loans, the two channels through which financial literacy could influence bank transparency.
The financial literacy of their customers may affect bank managers' actions. Financially literate customers can effectively discipline bank managers, reducing their tendencies for opportunistic earnings manipulation. Financially literate customers also provide more stable sources of funding for the bank. Both mechanisms imply that it is easier to value a bank with more financially literate customers.
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