Tuesday afternoon, SEC Chair Jay Clayton moderated a virtual roundtable, with Corp Fin Director Bill Hinman alongside, to hear how investors viewed current disclosure in connection with COVID-19 and, given that Q2 reporting is around the corner, what they would like to see. Participants on the panel included Gary Cohn, Former Director of the National Economic Council; Glenn Hutchins, Chair of North Island; Tracy Maitland, President and CIO of Advent Capital; and Barbara Novick, Vice Chair and Co-Founder of BlackRock. While it was entirely predictable that forward-looking information about liquidity would be a key concern, the call by all the participating investors for disclosure about social issues—particularly human capital and diversity—was something of a revelation.
CNBC has posted an unofficial transcript of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s recent interview with SEC Chair Jay Clayton. While much of the interview covers ground familiar from the last couple of days regarding forward-looking disclosure, particularly the joint statement that Clayton released with Corp Fin Director Bill Hinman (see this PubCo post), Clayton’s interview does provide some helpful color.
Yesterday, SEC Chair Jay Clayton and Corp Fin Director Bill Hinman issued a statement on the Importance of Disclosure – For Investors, Markets and Our Fight Against COVID-19. The statement urges companies, as they issue earnings releases and conduct analyst and investor calls in the coming weeks, to provide as much information as practicable, focusing their disclosure less on historical information and more on “current financial and operating status, as well as future operational and financial planning” under “various COVID-19-related mitigation conditions.” Among other topics, they encourage companies to address liquidity and resource needs, receipt of financial assistance under government programs, company efforts to protect worker health and customer safety and strategies to incrementally resume regular operations as the crisis resolves.