Tag Archives: Corporate and Securities

Frequent Comment Update: Part Two – Cash Flows

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

 

In our blog post “Time Again for a Frequent Comment Update”, we listed the frequent comment areas that CorpFin Staff members have been discussing at our Midyear Forums. In that post, we also highlighted a number of recent comments about non-GAAP measures. In this post, we turn our attention to comments about the statement of cash flows.

 

In the last several years there have been a number of restatements related to the statement of cash flows, some undoubtedly related to comment letters. Additionally, the FASB and EITF have issued two ASU’s to address various issues in the statement of cash flows.

 

ASU 2016-15 in August 2016

Provides guidance on 8 specific cash flow issues

 

ASU 2016-18 in November 2016

Provides guidance on classification and presentation of restricted cash

 

 

There is much discussion about root causes for cash flow statement problems. Theories range from the idea that the statement is prepared late in the reporting process and perhaps tends to be a more mechanical, “do it the way we did it last year” process, to the fact that there are some areas that are ambiguous in the cash flow statement guidance. Whatever the causes, there is clearly a need for care and review in preparing the statement of cash flows.

 

This first comment is about being sure you are familiar with the statement of cash flow requirements and also addresses a frequent problem area of ASC 230, discontinued operations:

 

We note your presentation of the decrease in cash and cash equivalents from discontinued operations in one line item. Please note that ASC 230-10-45-10 requires that a statement of cash flows shall classify cash receipts and cash payments as resulting from investing, financing, or operating activities. Please revise your current presentation to classify the cash flows from discontinued operations within each of the operating, investing and financing categories.

 

Whether to show cash flows from financing activities on a gross or net basis is not a mechanical decision. It requires judgment about the substance of the financing as this comment demonstrates:

 

We note from your financing activities section in your statement of cash flows that you present net proceeds (repayments) of short-term borrowings rather than on a gross basis. Please explain to us your basis for this presentation. Refer to ASC 230-10-45-7 through 9.

 

Another interesting aspect of cash flow statement preparation is how to treat hybrid items that have an element of two different types of cash flows. This comment demonstrates this is not always a mechanical process:

 

We note your presentation of payments for the costs of solar energy systems, leased and to be leased. Given that approximately 61% of your revenues for the year ended December 31, 2015 and 64% of your revenues for the period ended June 30, 2016 represented solar energy systems and product sales, please tell us how you reflect the costs of solar energy systems sold on your statements of cash flows pursuant to ASC 230.

 

These last two comments are not strictly speaking financial statement comments. They are common MD&A comments, and definitely needs to be part of the statement of cash flows conversation. Frequently MD&A tries to explain operating cash flows with confusing or mechanical language relating to items in the indirect method reconciliation from net income to operating cash flows.

 

Note the mention of drivers in this comment:

 

We note that your discussion of cash flows from operating activities is essentially a recitation of the reconciling items identified on the face of the statement of cash flows. This does not appear to contribute substantively to an understanding of your cash flows. Rather, it repeats items that are readily determinable from the financial statements. When preparing the discussion and analysis of operating cash flows, you should address material changes in the underlying drivers that affect these cash flows. These disclosures should also include a discussion of the underlying reasons for changes in working capital items that affect operating cash flows. Please tell us how you considered the guidance in Section IV.B.1 of SEC Release 33-8350.

 

Lastly, note the focus on underlying reasons for change in this comment:

 

You say that in the statement of cash flows, you provide reconciliation from net loss to cash flows used in operating activities where you have provided quantitatively the sources of your operating cash flows. However, as you use the indirect method to prepare your cash flows from operating activities, merely reciting changes in line items reported in the statement of cash flows is not a sufficient basis for an investor to analyze the impact on cash. Therefore, please expand your disclosure of cash flows from operating activities to quantify factors to which material changes in cash flows are attributed and explain the underlying reasons for such changes. Refer to Section IV.B.1 of “Interpretation: Commission Guidance Regarding Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” available on our website at http://www.sec.gov/rules/interp/33-8350.htm for guidance. Provide us a copy of your intended revised disclosure.

 

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

More Whistleblower News and a Warning from the SEC

In a recent post we discussed the “transformative effect” the SEC’s Whistleblower Program has had on SEC enforcement and reviewed the news that the SEC has now paid out more than $100 million to whistleblowers. We also, in an earlier post, walked-through both the Dodd-Frank and the SOX whistleblower programs and discussed some of their differences and similarities.

The most important thread running through all of this is the importance of whistleblowers in the detection and prevention of financial reporting fraud. The SEC’s Whistleblower Program affords “gatekeepers” a robust process for speaking out when they see something that isn’t right. The program is important in the detection of financial reporting fraud and is becoming an ever more important aspect of the SEC’s Enforcement program.

An important part of this program is sending messages to companies that they cannot act to harm whistleblowers. On two occasions thus far the SEC has acted strongly to punish companies who have sought to impede or retaliate against whistleblowers. The most recent case, in the words of the SEC, involved “firing an employee with several years of positive performance reviews because he reported to senior management and the SEC that the company’s financial statements might be distorted.”

The company paid a fine of half a million dollars.

Whistleblower situations are never simple. The issues involved are always grey. Whistleblowers can sometimes challenge areas where management has tried to make good decisions in complex situations. Loyalty is always an issue when someone blows the whistle. But even with these challenges the message from the SEC is clear; don’t retaliate when someone blows the whistle. Instead take steps to appropriately investigate and resolve the issues!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Due Care and Good Faith with Accounting Judgments – More Enforcement News!

On April 19th the SEC Enforcement Division announced two financial fraud enforcement cases in which companies, officers and in one of the cases the company’s auditors were named and barred or paid fines. Financial fraud enforcement cases are on the rise, but the interesting issue in these cases is that both centered on the challenging, grey area judgements that we make in the accounting process.

In the release Enforcement Division Director Andrew Ceresney said:

“We are intensely focused on whether companies and their officers evaluate judgmental accounting issues in good faith and based on GAAP.”

The most unsettling implication of these two cases is that while we make these judgements with uncertain and sometimes incomplete information, the people who pass judgment on them after the fact always operate with 20-20 hindsight.

The areas involved in these two cases are classic accounting estimate areas. One of the named companies/executives used a warranty accrual, failure to appropriately amortize intangibles and failure to appropriately write down inventory to lower of cost or market to be able to meet earnings targets.

In the other case, company executives failed to appropriately value accounts receivable from and impair investments in an electric car manufacturer that was a major customer. In addition, the audit engagement partner was suspended from appearing before the SEC.

You can read the release at:

www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2016-74.html

This message is more than unsettling, it’s downright scary. It almost starts to feel that someone is watching over our shoulder as we make difficult judgment calls. And we know that when we make these kinds of accounting judgments and estimates there is usually no “right answer”. In fact, different professionals may arrive at different conclusions when making these kinds of judgements, but there is usually a range of reasonable estimates.

 

That said, the message is clear, be sure to exercise due care and follow GAAP when making subjective accounting judgments, because if things go wrong, enforcement may be asking questions! And, as we said above, when they ask questions, they will have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

 

How do we assure that when someone with hindsight evaluates our decisions we have as strong a position as possible? Here are a few reminders about your process for making and documenting these judgments:

  1. Always create your documentation contemporaneously. If you wait to document a decision until you are asked about it by someone like the SEC, you will never remember all the issues and considerations in your decision. And, it will be easy to see that you created the documentation after the fact.

 

  1. In your documentation be sure to thoroughly evaluate all the different alternatives in the decision process. Lay out in clear language each alternative and the pros and cons of each alternative. Include all relevant factors on all sides of the decision. If someone wants to second guess your decisions and you have not addressed all the issues, it will be more likely that you will be second guessed.

 

  1. Support your discussion with appropriate references to the Accounting Standards Codification. Explain what GAAP you think is relevant and how the guidance applies in your situation. Most importantly, document and be faithful to the principles underneath the GAAP you are using.

 

  1. As part of ICFR, have a documented review process. All appropriate levels of involvement in the decision should be documented, and if your company has a policy about reviewing accounting decisions it should be documented that that policy was followed. If you know there is a material intentional error, such as occurred in these cases, use the appropriate channels within your company to rectify it.

 

If you would like some background about writing these kinds of white papers you could check our One-Hour Briefing about drafting accounting white papers at:

www.pli.edu/Content/How_to_Write_an_Accounting_White_Paper/_/N-1z11dsbZ4n?ID=264615

And lastly, if you are thinking about how the issues in this enforcement relate to issues that could be critical accounting estimates, you could also review the requirements for these disclosures in FR 72. You can find them at the end of the FR at:

www.sec.gov/rules/interp/33-8350.htm

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Procrastinating about Rev Rec?

Let’s face it, almost all of us procrastinate! And when there is a good reason to procrastinate, well, that is all the better! One of the big rationales for procrastinating dealing with the new revenue recognition standard was that the FASB was definitely going to make changes to the original ASU (ASU 2014-09). As the Transition Resource Group identified and discussed issues in the new standard it became clear that the FASB would clarify certain issues and improve the standard in other areas. In fact the FASB started four discrete projects to make changes.

Yesterday that rationale came to an end.   The FASB released the fourth of the four ASU’s. They are:

 

  1. ASU 2015-14 – Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Deferral of the Effective Date – Issued August 2015

 

  1. ASU 2016-8 – Revenue Recognition — Principal Versus Agent Considerations (Reporting Revenue Gross Versus Net) – Issued March 2016

 

  1. ASU 2016-10 – Revenue Recognition — Identifying Performance Obligations and Licenses – Final Standard Issued in April 2016

 

  1. ASU 2016-12 – Revenue Recognition — Narrow-Scope Improvements and Practical Expedients – Issued May 2016

 

All the core issues are now in the standard as amended! And yes, the TRG and the AICPA’s Industry Task Forces will continue to work on specific issues. You can read about the TRG’s issues at:

www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Page/SectionPage&cid=1176164066683

 

And you can follow-up on the AICPA’s task forces at:

www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/FRC/AccountingFinancialReporting/RevenueRecognition/Pages/RevenueRecognition.aspx

 

And, even with the TRG and AICPA still at work, the core is there. It is time to get busy!

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Some XBRL News and A Few Tidbits

XBRL has not really been in the news much lately, but on March 29, 2016 the SEC released a second DERA study about tagging processes. The study, titled “Staff Observations of Custom Axis Tags” is at:

www.sec.gov/structureddata/reportspubs/osd_assessment_custom-axis-tags.html

Here is an excerpt from the introduction of the report:

As part of our ongoing process to monitor registrant compliance with the requirements to report their financial information in their eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) exhibits, staff in the SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis recently assessed certain aspects of the XBRL exhibits that affect the data quality of the disclosures provided. Specifically, the staff examined the use of custom axis tags in XBRL exhibits that reporting companies submitted with their annual reports on Form 10-K. An axis tag in XBRL allows a filer to divide reported elements into different dimensions (e.g., revenue by geographical area, fair value measurement levels, components of total equity (e.g., common, preferred)) while also showing the relationships between separately reported elements.

……………

The staff’s analysis resulted in a few key observations. First, unlike our previous staff observations that revealed a lower average rate of custom line item tags among large filers, staff observed a higher average use of custom axis tags as filer size increased, with the rate of custom axis tags highest for large accelerated filers. Second, for a random sample of filings that staff reviewed, staff observed instances of filers creating custom axis tags unnecessarily when an appropriate standard axis tag existed in the U.S. GAAP taxonomy.

 

This is an interesting development, and clearly demonstrates the SEC’s work to help make XBRL information more reliable and useful.

The earlier information the SEC has issued about XBRL include:

A “Dear CFO” letter about calculation structures that is at:

www.sec.gov/divisions/corpfin/guidance/xbrl-calculation-0714.htm

This earlier DERA study of extension use at:

www.sec.gov/dera/reportspubs/assessment-custom-tag-rates-xbrl.html

 

Getting XBRL Right

Next, here is a good reminder to make sure that your XBRL submissions are prepared properly and tagging is done appropriately. While XBRL is not subject to ICFR and there is no requirement for any sort of auditor review, XBRL submissions are subject to your disclosure controls and procedures. As a result you should have appropriate controls to assure that your XBRL submission:

“is recorded, processed, summarized and reported, within the time periods specified in the Commission’s rules and forms.”

The above quote is from the definition of Disclosure Controls and Procedures in Exchange Act Rule 13a-15 which is at:

www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=8e0ed509ccc65e983f9eca72ceb26753&node=17:4.0.1.1.1&rgn=div5#se17.4.240_113a_615

This requirement is highlighted in a recent Form 10-K/A filed by Goldman Sachs to make some corrections in their XBRL submission. Goldman filed their original 10-K on February 19, 2016 and on March 1, 2016 filed a Form 10-K/A. As is required by the Exchange Act Rules for amendments, Goldman included this explanatory note:

EXPLANATORY NOTE

Due to an error by our external financial printer, our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015 (Original Form 10-K) was filed with an incorrect version of Exhibit 101, which provides items from our Original Form 10-K formatted in eXtensible Business Reporting Language.

This Amendment No. 1 on Form 10-K/A (Amendment) to our Original Form 10-K, filed on February 19, 2016, is being filed in accordance with Rule 12b-15 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the sole purpose of including the correct version of Exhibit 101.

This Amendment does not amend or otherwise update any other information in the Original Form 10-K and does not reflect events occurring after the date of the Original Form 10-K.

Goldman was perhaps doing something that is appropriate, which we discuss in our workshops. After the filing someone likely double checked the XBRL submission and found the problem, and they fixed it as soon as possible. This is an example of disclosure controls in action on a detective basis, and again, while the SEC has not really indicated that they will do a lot of review of XBRL submissions, we need to make sure they are done appropriately. And, who knows, it is possible the SEC pointed this out to Goldman.

 

Taxonomy Update

On March 7, 2016 the SEC updated the EDGAR system to accept the 2016 XBRL taxonomies previously released by the FASB. The announcement is at:

www.sec.gov/structureddata/announcement/osd-announcement-030716—xbrl-taxonomy-update.html

 

Using XBRL Information

While we still don’t hear a lot about users taking advantage of all the information in the XBRL database, user tools are continuing to evolve. One tool that provides a nice way to access and use XBRL data comes from a company called Calcbench. If you do peer group analysis or are searching for comparable disclosures, this is a very useful tool. You can learn more at:

www.calcbench.com

 

As usual your thoughts and comments, including any insights you have about people using XBRL or XBRL user tools, is welcome!

Climate Change – An MD&A Heads-Up

In our One-Hour Briefing discussing MD&A Hot Topics on February 8, 2016 we included climate change disclosures as one of the SEC’s current focus areas. We reviewed the SEC’s climate change disclosure guidance in FR 82 along with current developments in this area, including example SEC comments. This is clearly a very challenging uncertainty to deal with for many companies.  You can find FR 82 at:

www.sec.gov/rules/interp/2010/33-9106.pdf

 

If you are in an industry that is faced with this disclosure issue, WilmarHale’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Practice is in the process of presenting an eight-week series into this and other challenges facing the energy sector. You can read their thoughts about climate change disclosures and find the other posts in their blog at:

www.wilmerhale.com/pages/publicationsandnewsdetail.aspx?NewsPubId=17179880687

 

First Annual Dealing with MD&A Hot Topics.  Link to our one hour briefing by using the link below:

http://www.pli.edu/Content/First_Annual_Dealing_with_MDA_Hot_Topics/_/N-1z10wp5Z4n?ID=280193

 

Hope this helps, and as always your thoughts and comments are welcome!

10-K Tip Number Seven for 2016 – Cybersecurity

 

Is there a hotter disclosure topic than cybersecurity in the SEC reporting world right now? That of course is why we included it as a hot topic on our 2016 Form 10-K Tune-Up (Which is now available on-demand with CLE and CPE credit at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/Second_Annual_Form_10_K_Tune_Up/_/N-4nZ1z116ku?fromsearch=false&ID=278540   )

 

As perhaps the most important cybersecurity 10-K drafting reminder, don’t forget to review Corp Fin Disclosure Guidance Topic 2 as you draft and review. The Disclosure Guidance Topic is at:

www.sec.gov/divisions/corpfin/guidance/cfguidance-topic2.htm

 

And, for some examples and other thoughts, we have done a number of posts in our blog about cybersecurity. You can review them at:

Cybersecurity – What the what??

seciblog.pli.edu/?p=318

 

Comment of the Week Cybersecurity Risks Galore

seciblog.pli.edu/?p=253

 

Cybersecurity – The Continuing Saga

seciblog.pli.edu/?p=225

 

 

Cybersecurity – Help Managing the Risk

seciblog.pli.edu/?p=436

 

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

 

 

Form 10-K Tune-Up Tip Number Five for 2016

The next topic from our 2016 Form 10-K Tune-up One-Hour Briefing is SAB 74 disclosures. You can listen to the briefing on-demand with CPE and CLE credit available at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/Second_Annual_Form_10_K_Tune_Up/_/N-4nZ1z116ku?fromsearch=false&ID=278540

 
To begin, what does SAB 74, which is Topic 11-M in the SAB Codification, actually require? You can read the whole SAB at:

www.sec.gov/interps/account/sabcodet11.htm#M

 
Here are a few highlights.

First, it is clear that this disclosure is not required for all new Accounting Standards Updates:
“The Commission addressed a similar issue and concluded that registrants should discuss the potential effects of adoption of recently issued accounting standards in registration statements and reports filed with the Commission. The staff believes that this disclosure guidance applies to all accounting standards which have been issued but not yet adopted by the registrant unless the impact on its financial position and results of operations is not expected to be material.”
This part of the SAB dovetails very nicely with an important part of the SEC’s Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative, which is to eliminate immaterial disclosures that potentially “clutter up” a report and potentially obscure material information.
Here are two examples to explore this issue.

CocaCola did not mention recently issued accounting standards in their 2014 Form 10-K MD&A. They apparently made the judgment that there was no material impact in the current year from new accounting standards. They did include SAB 74 disclosures in their financial statements in note 1. You can check it out at:
www.coca-colacompany.com/content/dam/journey/us/en/private/fileassets/pdf/2015/02/2014-annual-report-on-form-10-k.pdf

 
Intel treated this disclosure in exactly the same way, and you can find their 2014 10-K at:
www.intc.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=50863-15-15

 
So, the first theme for SAB 74 is focus on material information.

 

 

The second point to think about with this disclosure is what do we need to say about new standards that we believe will be material.

The SAB contains four disclosure requirements:

 
1. “A brief description of the new standard, the date that adoption is required and the date that the registrant plans to adopt, if earlier.

 
2. A discussion of the methods of adoption allowed by the standard and the method expected to be utilized by the registrant, if determined.

 
3. A discussion of the impact that adoption of the standard is expected to have on the financial statements of the registrant, unless not known or reasonably estimable. In that case, a statement to that effect may be made.

 
4. Disclosure of the potential impact of other significant matters that the registrant believes might result from the adoption of the standard (such as technical violations of debt covenant agreements, planned or intended changes in business practices, etc.) is encouraged.”

 

 

As you consider these disclosures, the first thing that arises is that over time there will be a progression in the detail of the disclosure.

For example, most companies at this point in time will not know which method they will use to implement the new revenue recognition standard. But, as we go through next year, we will get closer to that decision. When the decision is made, the disclosure should be updated to inform investors about which method will be used. The same issue applies to quantifying the impact of a change.

 
The fourth disclosure, the potential impact on other significant matters, points out that when such a situation exists, this information may not be appropriate to disclose in the financial statements, but would be disclosed in MD&A.

This means that this disclosure should not always be exactly the same in the financial statements and MD&A.
As a brief PS, we have blogged about this topic before and suggested some wording for SAB 74 disclosures about the new revenue recognition standard. You can read that post at:
seciblog.pli.edu/?p=171

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

10-K Tip Number Three for 2016

This post continues the series of deeper dives into the 10-K reporting issues we highlighted in our January 7, 2016 One-Hour Briefing, “PLI’s Second Annual Form 10-K Tune-Up”. (This One-Hour Briefing will be available on-demand soon.) This is the third topic in the briefing, audit committee disclosures.

In the Fall of 2015 we did a series of posts about audit committee issues, a topic that has been under discussion by the SEC and the reporting community. The SEC’s concept release about audit committee disclosures and a study by The Center for Audit Quality and Audit Analytics that shows that many companies are making audit committee disclosures well beyond those required by the SEC, the Exchanges and the NASDAQ brought this discussion to a new level of importance.

This is, of course, why we included this topic in our One-Hour Briefing. And, rather than repeat all the issues, here are the blog posts which you can peruse and dive into more deeply at your leisure:

 

 

Part One – Overview and Some History seciblog.pli.edu/?p=447

Part Two – Independence Oversight seciblog.pli.edu/?p=450

Part Three – Audit Fee Disclosures –A Few Common Problem Areas in This Independence Disclosure  seciblog.pli.edu/?p=456

Part Four – The SEC’s Concept Release seciblog.pli.edu/?p=462

Part Five – Voluntary Disclosures in the News   seciblog.pli.edu/?p=486

Part Six – Some Next Steps  seciblog.pli.edu/?p=496

 

 

 

As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome!

 

Keeping up with the IPO Market – An IPO Resource Update

Last December the US Government passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or FAST Act……um, wait, isn’t this an SEC Reporting Blog? Well, as frequently happens when a “must pass” bill is in the legislative process congress members and senators add many amendments that are unrelated to the original bill. One of those ride-along areas in the FAST Act turns out to be SEC reporting related.

Several of the provisions relate to Emerging Growth Companies and their path through the IPO process. Others relate to disclosure effectiveness and improving the reporting system. Check the last section of this post and you can read a summary of these legislative changes.

Congress tinkering with the IPO process raises the question, just what is the state of the IPO market?

One great resource that provides a weekly update about the IPO market with details by industry and other factors is PWC’s weekly newsletter “Capital Markets Watch”. You can find the current and past issues at:

www.pwc.com/us/en/deals/publications/ipo-watch-weekly.html

The IPO market here in the US was fairly strong last year. That said, uncertainty and market volatility have a strong impact on IPO demand and given this year’s start in the capital markets it is difficult to predict how IPO’s will fare this year. One thing for sure, it will be interesting to watch!

One of the things you learn as you watch the ebb and flow of IPO’s is that there is a clear seasonal pattern in this market, which companies should allow for in their planning. Fall is usually a strong period in this market. Which means it is important to begin the process early in the year.

If you are in the process of considering an IPO, PLI has a wealth of resources. Our treatise “Initial Public Offerings: A Practical Guide to Going Public” will help you build a thorough understanding of the process. You can learn about it at:

www.pli.edu/Content/Treatise/Initial_Public_Offerings_A_Practical_Guide/_/N-4lZ1z12nwi?fromsearch=false&ID=158941

Our full-day conference “Securities Offerings 2016: A Public Offering: How It Is Done”, which will be on March 11 this year, is a good deep-dive into the process. The program will be presented live in New York and is available via webcast also. You can learn all about the program at:

www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Securities_Offerings_2016_A_Public_Offering/_/N-4kZ1z11hzm?fromsearch=false&ID=259900

Lastly, here is a brief summary of the major SEC related provisions of the FAST Act.

This Act:

Updates certain provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), and

Requires the SEC to review and update certain SEC reporting requirements.

The Act’s goal is to make capital raising by smaller companies easier. Some of the changes are self implementing and will take effect immediately, others will require SEC rulemaking.

Under the original provisions of the JOBS Act a company could lose EGC status during the IPO process. This would happen for example if revenues exceeded $1 billion before the effective date of a registration statement. The FAST Act allows a company in the IPO process to “lock in” its EGC status. This status will last for up to one year after the company fails to qualify as an EGC. In this case a company will be treated as an EGC through its IPO date, or one year after it ceases to meet the EGC criteria, whichever is earlier. This provision is effective immediately.

The original provisions of the JOBS Act require that all confidential submissions be made public at least 21 days before marketing the company’s stock. The FAST Act changes this to 15 days before marketing, or effectiveness if there isn’t a road show. (Typically marketing begins with the road show.)   This provision is effective immediately.

Under the FAST Act an EGC may omit financial information from a confidential submission or public filing if the company reasonably believes that it will not be required under the rules when the registration statement is declared effective. For example, prior year F/S would not be required if a company believes they will not be required when the registration statement is declared effective. This could be true for certain interim information also. The SEC has already considered extending this provision to all companies.

The Act also requires the SEC to amend its rules to allow a summary page in Form 10-K. Each item should include a cross-reference to where the relevant information is included in the annual report.  This may be a hyperlink. While the SEC is required to do this within 180 days a company could actually do this now.

The Act also requires the SEC to review and amend Regulation S-K to provide additional scaling or eliminate requirements for accelerated filers, EGCs, SRCs and other smaller issuers to reduce reporting burdens while still providing all material information to investors. This review is also designed to remove redundant, outdated or unnecessary disclosures for all issuers. The SEC is required to do this within 180 days

The Act requires a second S-K study to be done in conjunction with the SEC’s:

Investor Advisory Committee and

Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies

The focus of this review is to:

Modernize and simplify requirements

Reduce costs and burdens

Still provide all material information to investors

 

This review should:

Emphasize a “company-by-company” disclosure model

Reduce boilerplate language

Maintain completeness

Provide for comparability across companies

Evaluate methods of information delivery and presentation

Explore methods for reducing repetition and the disclosure of immaterial information

The SEC must complete the study and issue a report to Congress including detailed recommendations with 360 days and then propose rules 360 days after the first study is issued.

The FAST Also includes a new exemption for private companies, Section 4(a)(7) of the Securities Act, which will provide for private re-sales of restricted securities. Purchasers will have to be accredited investors and general solicitation and advertising will not be permitted.

The FAST Act also provides for forward incorporation in Forms S-1 and F-1 by smaller reporting companies. This will obviate the need to file prospectus supplements or post-effective amendments.

Savings & loan holding companies now have the same registration thresholds as banks and bank holding companies.

The SEC has already update some JOBS Act FAQs and has even discussed broadening some of the provisions.

There is a lot here, and if you would like to learn more about the FAST Act we have a recorded program with details at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/FAST_Act_Securities_Law_Provisions/_/N-4nZ1z10zk8?fromsearch=false&ID=276456

As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome!