SEC Proposes Rules To Modernize And Simplify Disclosures

Posted by on November 01, 2017

SEC Proposes Rules To Modernize And Simplify Disclosures- Today is the first in a LawCast series on the SEC’s October 11, 2017 proposed rule amendments to modernize and simplify disclosure requirements for public companies, investment advisers, and investment companies. The proposed rule amendments implement a mandate under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST Act”).The FAST Act, passed in December 2015, contains two sections requiring the SEC to modernize and simplify the requirements in Regulation S-K. Section 72002 requires the SEC to amend Regulation S-K to “further scale or eliminate requirements… to reduce the burden on emerging growth companies, accelerated filers, smaller reporting companies, and other smaller issuers, while still providing all material information to investors.” In addition, the SEC was directed to “eliminate provisions… that are duplicative, overlapping, outdated or unnecessary.”

In accordance with that requirement, On July 13, 2016, the SEC issued proposed rule change on Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X to amend disclosures that are redundant, duplicative, overlapping, outdated or superseded. I will review those proposed rules, which are slated for action in this year’s SEC regulatory agenda, in this Lawcast series as well.
Section 72003 required the SEC to conduct a study on Regulation S-K and, in that process, to consult with the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee (the “IAC”) and the Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies (the “ACSEC”) and then to issue a report on the study findings, resulting in a report issued on November 23, 2016.
Section 72003 specifically required that the report include: (i) the finding made in the required study; (ii) specific and detailed recommendations on modernizing and simplifying the requirements in Regulation S-K in a manner that reduces the costs and burdens on companies while still providing all material information; and (iii) specific and detailed recommendations on ways to improve the readability and navigability of disclosure documents and to reduce repetition and immaterial information. The proposed amendments seek to implement the various findings and recommendations in the November report.

As further discussed in this Lawcast series, the proposed amendments would: (i) revise forms to update, streamline and improve disclosures including eliminating risk factor examples in form instructions and revising the description of property requirement to emphasize a materiality threshold; (ii) eliminate certain requirements for undertakings in registration statements; (iii) amend exhibit filing requirements and related confidential treatment requests; (iv) amend Management Discussion and Analysis requirements to allow for more flexibility in discussing historical periods; and (v) incorporate more technology in filings through data tagging of items and hyperlinks.