Assessing impact of major tax law change, if enacted, on financial statements on a timely basis would present huge challenge

The potential passage of the new tax bill is giving some finance departments conniptions, according to Bloomberg BNA, and they’re hoping that the SEC will address the problem.  The SEC?  Yes.  While companies are happy to see the tax breaks, some companies, especially large multinational companies, are anxious about whether they will be able to accurately determine the impact of the tax changes on their financial statements in time to file their annual and quarterly reports with the SEC. The obvious concern is that, if the SEC doesn’t extend the filing deadline, companies could risk making material misstatements. 

What’s on the Agenda—the SEC’s Regulatory Flexibility Agenda, that is?

SEC Chair Jay Clayton has repeatedly made a point of his intent to take the Regulatory Flexibility Act Agenda ”seriously,” streamlining it to show what the SEC actually expected to take up in the subsequent period. (See this PubCo post and this PubCo post.)  The agenda has just been released, and it certainly appears that Clayton has been true to his word: several items that had taken up long-term residency on numerous prior agendas seem to be absent from this one.

SEC Chair Clayton issues statement on cryptocurrencies and ICOs: are all ICOs securities offerings?

To SEC Chair Jay Clayton, so far, it sure appears that way. Yesterday, Clayton issued a statement on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, which warns that, of the ICOs that Clayton has seen promoted so far, “[b]y and large, the structures…involve the offer and sale of securities and directly implicate the securities registration requirements and other investor protection provisions of our federal securities laws.  Generally speaking, these laws provide that investors deserve to know what they are investing in and the relevant risks involved.”  This position is consistent with Clayton’s unscripted observation during his remarks at the 2017 PLI Securities Regulation Institute (see this PubCo post) that, other than pure cryptocurrency, he had yet to see an ICO that did not have some indicia of a securities offering. In his statement, he indicates that he has asked SEC Enforcement “to police this area vigorously.” 

Cybersecurity risk disclosure remains at relatively low levels, but for how long?

Even though, in the wake of recent events, cybersecurity is a very hot topic, only 38% of U.S. public companies cite cybersecurity as a risk factor in their annual and quarterly SEC filings, according to a recent study from Intelligize.  The study showed that, while only 426 public companies cited cybersecurity as a risk in 2012, that number grew to 1,662 in 2016.  However, so far in 2017, the number has been relatively flat at 1,680. But the question remains, how long will that continue?

NYSE proposes changes regarding delivery to NYSE of proxy materials; SEC approves NYSE restriction on timing of issuance of material news after NYSE close

Two changes—one proposed, one approved—in the NYSE Manual: first, the NYSE is proposing to modify its requirements with respect to delivery to the NYSE of hard copies of proxy materials. Second, the SEC has approved the NYSE’s proposal, as amended, related to a limitation on the issuance of material news in the period immediately after the NYSE close.

Boilerplate CAMs in auditor’s reports? That would be a bummer, man

In what were surely unprepared remarks to the American Institute of CPAs conference on SEC and PCAOB developments, as reported by Bloomberg BNA, SEC Chair Jay “the Dude” Clayton commented on the impact he expects the new form of auditor’s report could have on his mood: “‘If it results in quality, I’ll be happy….And if it results in boilerplate, I’ll be really bummed out.’”