News from the Lab

26 October 2020

Financial Reporting Lab newsletter: October 2020
 
The Lab has released its third newsletter for 2020. This issue provides an update on the Lab’s ongoing projects and recent activities including its recently released reports on Video in Corporate Reporting and Reporting in times of uncertainty – a look forward, as well as a set of tips to help companies make their section 172 statements more useful.


15 October 2020 
 

Reporting in times of uncertainty – a look forward

With COVID-19 continuing to impact us all, many companies are facing a challenging year-end. While the uncertainty creates risks for annual reporting it also presents opportunities. Today the Lab releases two short guides which cover some critical areas of focus for 2020 year-ends. These guides look back at key elements highlighted in the Lab’s previous work (COVID-19 – Resources, action, the future and COVID 19 – Going concern, risk, and viability) consider current practice, including some more recent examples, and take a look forward at how investor information needs continue to develop.

COVID-19: Resources, action, the future - a look forward
COVID 19: Going concern, risk, and viability - a look forward

14 October 2020 

Tips to help companies make Section 172 statements more useful
 
Today, the FRC Lab has published a set of tips intended to help companies consider what content to include in a Section 172 statement, how to present it and how to facilitate the process of preparing the statement.
 
This first year of reporting on directors’ Section 172 duty to promote the success of the company has seen companies try a variety of approaches. These tips were developed following the Lab’s discussions with investors and other stakeholders about what information would be most useful on how directors have had regard to the matters set out in section 172(1)(a) to (f) of the Companies Act 2006 and how it can be presented effectively. The Lab also spoke to companies to understand their processes and challenges in preparing this statement.
 
The FRC Lab Director, Phil Fitz-Gerald said:

“The requirements for the Section 172 statement have continued to shine a light on the importance of a company’s stakeholders and we are pleased that boards are increasingly discussing these matters, particularly during the challenges they are currently facing with COVID-19. Section 172 is not just about stakeholders and engagement with them, but about how directors are considering them and other matters in pursuit of the company’s success. We hope the tips can help companies as they start planning their next statements.”

 
08 October 2020 

Opportunities for companies to increase their use of video in reporting
 
A new FRC Lab report, Video In Corporate Reporting, is released today and considers how companies currently use video for communication to investors and stakeholders. The report includes examples of current practice and concludes that companies are missing an opportunity to engage investors and other stakeholders more effectively through video.  It also provides guidance on effective virtual AGMs following the FRC’s review published earlier this week.


10 September 2020 

Call for Participants in new Lab project: reporting on risks, uncertainties and scenarios
 
The FRC's Financial Reporting Lab is inviting investors and companies to participate in a new project on corporate disclosures on risks, uncertainties and scenarios. 
Investors and companies interested in participating can email FinancialReportingLab@frc.org.uk.
Further information about the project can be viewed here.

09 July 2020 

 

Call for participants: reporting on stakeholders and Section 172

The Financial Reporting Lab (the Lab) is inviting investors and companies to participate in a new project on corporate disclosures about stakeholders, including Section 172 statements.
 
In 2020, companies need to prepare a Section 172 statement for the first time. The Lab’s project will seek to identify how information about stakeholders can be reported most effectively by examining existing best practice and understanding investors’ needs.
 
Investors and companies interested in participating can email FinancialReportingLab@frc.org.uk. Views from other interested parties, particularly organisations representing relevant stakeholders, are also welcomed.
 
Further information about the project can be viewed here.


 
15 June 2020 

Investors expect timely and clear disclosures 

In these times of unparalleled economic uncertainty, investors are calling for clear and timely disclosures from companies, including any going concern considerations, to help them identify those companies which need the most attention and support. Two new reports from the Financial Reporting Council’s Lab issued today provide practical guidance to companies in areas of reporting that investors have highlighted as being most critical.
 
The reports found that investors recognise COVID-19 may create a wide range of issues for companies, but that the provision of transparent and timely information helps investors in their decision-making and drives the allocation of capital when companies are looking to the markets for support. As the UK economy is at risk of a recession, those businesses that provide such information are critical in helping the economy back to health.
 
The first report provides further practical advice to companies following the Lab’s infographic issued in March setting out the disclosures investors expect to see from companies during this time of uncertainty. The second report gives specific guidance on going concern, risk and viability disclosures. 
 
The Lab’s reports found that investors are fully aware that the levels of uncertainty are unprecedented and, to a large extent, outside companies’ control. They encourage Boards of companies to consider plausible scenarios and report on how they intend to respond to these going forward. Examples of good practice reporting have been included to assist companies.
 
Specific elements of uncertainty relevant to the next 12 months might include (but are not limited to):
 

  • Timing of resumption of operations.

  • Further restrictions that limit the return to normal operations.

  • Restrictions placed on government (or other) capital.

  • Timing and continuation of government schemes and support packages.

  • The outcome of capital raising actions, discussions with banks, and landlords.

  • Short-term impacts of pricing changes to revenue and expenses.

  • Impacts on human capital, the supply chain and customers.

 
The FRC’s Chief Executive, Sir Jon Thompson said:
 
These are unprecedented times and investors rightly expect clear and timely disclosures from companies setting out the impact of Covid-19 on their business and long-term prospectsGood quality reporting is vital in times of uncertainty and will help investors make informed decisions about where support for companies is most needed.
 
“As we turn our attention to the recovery, investors have a key role to play in supporting jobs and building resilience in our economy.” 
 
The two reports can be viewed here:
 
Covid 19 - going concern, risk and viability
Covid 19 - resources, action, the future
 
Alongside the reports, the Lab has produced summaries which can be viewed here and  here.



26th March 2020

As part of a wider package of joint guidance issued, the FRC’s Financial Reporting Lab has been seeking feedback from investors on the disclosures that they would like to see and has produced a short infographic.. This work has highlighted a desire for disclosures from companies on the financial resources available to them including cash and access to additional finance (such as committed bank lines), other financing and non-standard debt arrangements (such as supply chain financing). Click on the link for further information.


20 January 2020

We have just published our latest project report: Workforce-related corporate reporting. The report provides practical guidance, including examples, of where companies can improve their reporting on workforce-related matters, and outlines investor views on this topic. The report, summary and questions for companies can be found here , here  and here.