Press release

FERF and EY Research shows noteworthy progress to improving corporate disclosures

New York, 14 October 2016

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Report shares S&P 500 companies’ voluntary actions to advance the effectiveness of their financial reports.

EY and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), the independent, non-profit research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI), have issued their latest research on corporate disclosures titled Disclosure effectiveness in action: companies make great strides. The report provides examples of the types of changes many S&P 500 companies across industries are voluntarily making to improve the main items within their 10-Ks and annual reports.

The report provides insights into the varying approaches and degrees to which companies are taking initiatives to make disclosures more effective. Research for the report included reviewing certain 10-K metrics for all S&P 500 companies from 2012 through 2015.

Key changes include:

  • Improvements to MD&A presentation through tactics such as layering, cross-referencing and the greater use of bullet points or charts to depict changes in key reported measures.
  • Changes to the Business section by eliminating of redundancies between the Business and MD&A sections, and aligning and enhancing the discussion of business strategies and portfolio composition.
  • Improvements to risk factors by improving organization of the factors, eliminating generic risk factors and using charts and graphs to present risk trends and trajectories.
  • Enhancements to financial statement footnotes by revising organization of the notes, increasing use of cross-referencing and using tables, charts and graphs to depict information in a summarized form. Many companies also combined certain footnotes to streamline and focus their disclosure.
  • Modernization of a growing number of investor relations websites by producing digital and interactive annual reports online, enabling financial information to be more accessible and dynamic.

“Improving the effectiveness of corporate disclosures is a multi-party initiative of paramount importance to investors, companies, regulators and our markets at large,” said Neri Bukspan, EY Americas Disclosures Leader and a co-author of the report. “We are highly encouraged by the findings and the impressive progress made by many companies to advance their disclosures. The actions they are taking voluntarily to communicate in more effective and innovative ways will undoubtedly accelerate the pace of addressing the ever-increasing information needs of the 21st-century investor.” 

“This report reflects the proactive initiatives many companies have undertaken to enhance their financial reports, recognizing the importance of telling their story as effectively as possible to inform shareholders and the investor community,” added Andrej Suskavcevic, CAE, President and CEO of FEI and FERF.

The new report was released in conjunction with the inaugural Pacesetters in Financial Reporting Conference held at The Lubin School of Business at Pace University on Sept. 26, 2016. The conference, hosted by Pace’s Center for Excellence in Financial Reporting, in association with Financial Executives International (FEI) and EY, was designed to stimulate discussion about how to enhance financial reports and acknowledge, and learn from companies striving to better meet the needs of today’s investors.

This recent report is a follow-up to the 2015 study Disclosure effectiveness: Companies embrace the call to action, which found that 74 percent of companies surveyed were taking action to improve the effectiveness of their disclosures. The research uncovered a number of important findings which can be found at ey.com/disclosures along with other resources on the topic from EY.

About Financial Executives Research Foundation, Inc.

Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) is the non-profit 501(c)(3) research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI). FERF researchers identify key financial issues and develop impartial, timely research reports for FEI members and nonmembers alike, in a variety of publication formats. FERF relies primarily on voluntary tax-deductible contributions from corporations and individuals, and publications can be ordered by logging onto www.ferf.org/reports.

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member firm of EY serving clients in the US.