October 31, 2014

Corp Fin’s Disclosure Effectiveness Project: Comment Letter Themes

About 20 comment letters have been submitted to the SEC so far in connection with Corp Fin’s Disclosure Effectiveness project. Common themes include strong investor interest in mandatory disclosure of sustainability/ESG information, and a desire among issuers to eliminate requirements and processes that elicit redundant and outdated disclosures.

The Society of Corporate Secretaries recommends elimination of obsolete and duplicative disclosures (citing specific examples in both categories), and provides other suggestions for enhanced disclosure including elimination of the “glossy” annual report and prior period results in the MD&A; institution of a formal post-adoption review process for significant new disclosure requirements to evaluate the continuing need for such disclosures in light of evolved economic, business and regulatory conditions; and allowing for sustainability disclosure to be effectively communicated outside of ‘34 Act reports.

The Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness also offers concrete suggestions – including what it characterizes as near-term improvements to Regulation S-K that the SEC can enact expeditiously with the widespread support of multiple stakeholders (e.g., eliminating specifically identified redundant and outdated disclosure requirements), and longer-term projects that reflect more fundamental change such as the CD&A and MD&A.

Near-Term Actions to Enhance Disclosures

In this recent memo, Deloitte summarizes Corp Fin’s views and recommendations about steps companies can take now to improve their disclosures pending formal reforms resulting from Corp Fin’s Disclosure Effectiveness project. The memo includes a table in the Appendix that identifies specific types of disclosures (e.g., critical accounting estimates in MD&A, risk factors) and suggestions for improvements.

See also this recent FEI article discussing FASB’s and the IASB’s disclosure initiatives, as well as the SEC’s.

More on “The Mentor Blog”

We continue to post new items daily on our blog – “The Mentor Blog” – for members. Members can sign up to get that blog pushed out to them via email whenever there is a new entry by simply inputting their email address on the left side of that blog. Here are some of the latest entries:

– Exclusive Forum Bylaws: California State Court Follows Delaware
– Whistleblowers: SEC Receives Two Rulemaking Petitions
– Are the Securities Laws a “First Amendment Free” Zone?
– Why Ralph Whitworth May Be America’s Best Board Member
– Compliance: SEC Expectations vs. Current Stats

– by Randi Val Morrison