Our year-end conferences have begun with the presentation of our 12th Annual SEC Reporting & FASB Forum for Mid-sized & Smaller Companies in Las Vegas last week and will continue with our 32nd Annual SEC Reporting & FASB Forums in November and December.
Disclosure effectiveness is a theme that is already emerging from CorpFin at these conferences.
As we think about how we communicate with shareholders this is another year-end planning consideration. We have done a number of posts about disclosure effectiveness and how the SEC (and FASB) are working on projects to make disclosure more effective. This project has roots that go back a good way, and both the JOBS Act and the FAST Act have helped it build momentum.
You can find a nice review of the SEC’s Concept Releases and related proposals about disclosure effectiveness here. All this rule making will, of course, require time as the SEC requests comments and revises its proposals based on constituent feedback.
In the meantime, the Staff is sending a clear message to make disclosures more effective right now. At our recent conference, CorpFin reminded everyone that SEC reports are intended to be communication documents as well as compliance documents and suggested actions we can all take in the context of current rules to make communication more effective:
Eliminate outdated information,
Tailor disclosures, focusing on factors unique to the company,
Don’t use comment letters in a generic sense.
These ideas fit nicely with the Staff’s previously discussed ideas we have been discussing for quite a while:
Eliminate outdated and immaterial information.
All of this dovetails together with a speech by Keith Higgins that started the initiative in 2014. And, with this much mention by the Staff, clearly change is in the wind, and we all have an opportunity to get ahead of the change and make communication better.
Making changes to annual and quarterly report disclosure is never a simple process, as the number of stakeholders and reviewers make change very challenging. And, thinking about how best to meet the information needs of investors is never easy.
However, many companies are already making changes to disclosure. If you want to find examples, check out American Express and GE. Both have been very proactive in this arena.
Now is a good time to consider and search for opportunities to make current disclosure more effective!
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!