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Volume of Disclosures Under the Microscope Again

When is enough … enough? US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is once again wrestling with the question of whether statutory disclosures are too lengthy.   It’s a question that needs to be asked from time to time otherwise regulators and standard setters continue to add to the burden of reporting and nobody challenges what can be taken out.

Mary Jo White, The Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), raised the thorny issue at a speech given to The National Association of Corporate Directors leadership conference a few weeks ago, citing concerns about ‘information overload’.  She said, “I am raising the question here and internally at the SEC as to whether investors need and are optimally served by the detailed and lengthy disclosures about all of the topics that companies currently provide in the reports they are required to prepare and file with us.”

But many of us have heard it all before and there have been dozens of initiatives to reduce information overload – all to no avail. “Given the number of initiatives and the amount of time spent over the years on the topic, there is certainly not a shortage of views.  This is a topic that also often raises more questions than answers,” she added.  Don’t hold your breath.