Auditors Reap Praise From Both Sides of the Fence

Auditors Reap Praise From Both Sides of the Fence
Vickie Judy, the chief financial officer of America’s Car-Mart Inc. in Rogers, previously worked as an independent auditor.

For publicly traded companies, big and small, an independent auditor can be a valuable resource, not just to monitor compliance with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, but for a fresh set of eyes on the company’s financials.

“From an internal perspective, when someone is doing the same thing day in and day out, month after month, sometimes you may tend to not see the forest for the trees,” said Vickie Judy, the chief financial officer of America’s Car-Mart Inc. in Rogers. “Anytime you can have an independent third party ask a different set of questions or give you a different perspective, it is always a positive thing.”

Judy has worked both sides of the independent auditor fence. She was named CFO at America’s Car-Mart in 2018 after joining the company in 2010. From 1988-92, she worked as an auditor for Arthur Andersen, the former auditing giant that was erased in the Enron meltdown in 2001.

Publicly traded companies are required to file their proxy statements with the SEC every year.

The filings are filled with useful and revealing information, such as executive pay, details about the annual shareholders meetings and the election slate of each company’s board of directors. The proxy also tells shareholders of the upcoming vote to ratify the company’s independent auditor.

America’s Car-Mart uses Grant Thornton LLP as its independent auditor. In 2020, it paid the auditor $302,000 in fees, down from $337,000 in 2019.

The 2020 fees are the lowest paid by any Arkansas public company and well below the highest paid, which was $27.7 million by Walmart Inc. of Bentonville to Ernst & Young.

Judy said America’s Car-Mart chose Grant Thornton many years ago after internal research and discussion. America’s Car-Mart made $104 million in fiscal 2021 but has the challenges of being a used car dealer and a collections company.

“Their primary job is the Xs and the Os and explaining any variances and making sure the numbers are right,” Judy said.

“From a value-add to their client, there is always a lot of discussions about what they see with their other clients. You tend to want someone who has some expertise in your field, especially someone like us who has the retail side of the business with the dealership but we have the sub-prime finance. Someone who understands finance companies is important.”

After the collapse of Enron, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which increased oversight and regulation of auditors.

“There were more rules to follow,” Judy said. “Everybody was looking a lot deeper into their internal controls and remapping some of those. There is just a lot more scrutiny. It makes us all better.”

Fees Paid by Public Companies in Arkansas to Independent Auditors


Independent Auditor



America's Car-Mart Inc.*

Grant Thornton



ArcBest Corp.

Ernst & Young



Bank OZK




Dillard's Inc.




Home BancShares Inc.




Inuvo Inc.

Mayer Hoffman McCann



J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

Ernst & Young



Murphy USA Inc.




PAM Transport Inc.

Grant Thornton



Simmons First National Corp.




Tyson Foods Inc.




Uniti Group**

KPMG & PricewaterhouseCoopers



USA Truck Inc.

Grant Thornton



Walmart Inc.*

Ernst & Young



*As of Dec. 9, only Car-Mart and Walmart had reported 2021 fees. Car-Mart reported $311,545; Walmart reported $28,231,000.
**Uniti Group used KPMG as its indepedent auditor in 2020 and PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2019.
Source: U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission