SEC Chair discusses refining company disclosure reports

SEC Chair Mary Jo White spoke about the SEC and its disclosure policies at a leadership conference in National Harbor, Md. The Securities and Exchange Commission posted the transcript on their website SEC.gov.

During her speech White talked about the need for disclosure, stating that without it, investors would be unable to make informed decisions, and could unwittingly be putting themselves at risk. Among the information companies must disclose to the SEC, White mentions the inclusion of the company’s current, future, and occasionally past business model; recent past and present profit history, as well as future profit estimations; details about large shareholders, loan history and future loans; and a detailed descriptions of company officers and directors, how much they are paid, and why.

While White feels all of the provided information she mentioned is or has been useful to investors, she wonders if there isn’t a more efficient way to provide this information, fearing that the often lengthy reports can be difficult for investors to work through.

Citing examples of the many times these reports have been revised over the years, adding and removing required information, White feels that they should be looking into further revising the disclosure reports. According to White, it may be time to consider what is no longer needed in the reports, and to see how much information can be found online and elsewhere. White would also like to see less repetition within reports, and feels that time limits for reports should be tightened.

In conclusion, White says that there may not be one proper disclosure report for everyone, and that the concerns she had spoken should be considered as the disclosure process is further refined.