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The Need for Continuous Disclosure

Question:

Discuss About The Financial Accounting Reporting And Analysis?

There have been several modifications that have been done in the reporting requirements of the listed companies for improving the transparency and authentication of the information that is given to the shareholders. Continuous disclosure is an important management of the Australian stock exchange disclosure framework. It is done to ensure that price sensitive information in relation to the stocks that are traded on the stock exchange, should reach the shareholders. Before this was made mandatory, the information would reach the shareholders in quarterly, semi-annual reports, and the companies would convey the information through periodic fillings to the exchange and the regulating people (Dichev, 2017). If there is a time lag in the correct information reaching the shareholders, they may suffer huge losses because of the same. In the world where money is invested every second, information is considered the most important factor. The sale prices can alter every second, and this it is important that correct information reaches at the correct time, so that shareholders can manage their funds without incurring losses. In cases where companies default in the same, they are voluntary suspended from the stock exchange and also loses there credibility in the market. It is done to take care of insider trading and prevent people from dealing in fraudulent activities on basis of any price sensitive information that they may have from unwanted sources. So the need of continuous disclosure is very important for reporting entities (Fay & Negangard, 2017). In this essay the various aspects of continuous reporting for disclosure requirements and its effectiveness is discussed briefly.

In this case study, we see how the shareholders of the Bellamy Australia suffered because they were not given correct and accurate information about the financials of the company. The shares were suspended on the Australian Stock Exchange in relation to the ban that occurred on the supply of the milk products, because of this the share price dropped from as high as $16.50 about 12 months ago to just $6.68 on Friday, before there was a halt on the trading of the shares. It was mentioned that there was a halt on the trading of shares because the company wanted to fulfil its requirement of continuous disclosure and for the same the company went for voluntary suspension, but that had affected many small shareholders who invested in the company (Fay & Negangard, 2017). So why is it that important to meet these requirements of continuous disclosers and how does it support the investors and the companies.

Guidelines for Continuous Disclosure

In countries like Australia, America and Europe, the government requires that the companies must provide some information to the shareholders on continuous basis if it alters the price and value of its securities and derivatives. Section 674 requires companies in Australia to inform the shareholders through the stock exchange about the various price sensitive information which may not be generally available to them (Given, 2016). This is done to prevent insider trading. It is very important that information must reach promptly, thus the need of continuous disclosure is there. The information that is provided must have certain qualities like it should be factual, should be accurate, reach timely and should never be disclosed to private parties, this might lead to insider trading. All this information must reach the stock exchange and should be made public for the need of the shareholders (Guragai, et al., 2017). The information that companies need to provide the shareholders are any significant changes related to the assets, operations, financial position, any mergers, disinvestments or acquisitions etc. Any such information that might affect the position of the investors must be made available to them through appropriate channels. This is how this system works. With the help of this information the shareholders can judge the credibility of the company and can decide whether they want to invest in the shares of the company or not. This will help them from any unwanted losses and help them in taking effective decisions. In the given case of Bellamy’s correct information was not provided to the shareholder and that had affected their credit position and they had to incur huge losses. The company also suffered and lost their position in the market, owing to their poor stand on the situation that led to voluntary suspension of trading of funds and brought the company and the shareholders to a vulnerable position (Prasad & Chand, 2017).

The Australian Stock exchange has provided a list of guidelines that the company needs to follow to make sure that they fulfil the needs of continuous reporting of disclosure requirements. In any case if they default then they would be penalized and would not be allowed to trade their stocks in public. There is an option of “carve out” as per which there are certain situations in which the companies do not need to follow this policy of continuous disclosures of reporting entities, this includes- breach of law in disclosing the information, an incomplete negotiation or proposal, a trade secret or if the information has been created for internal management if the entity. There should be reasonable reason for withholding the information and if found guilty there is a serious breach of law and criminal proceedings can be initiated against the company. As per rules, the company might need to pay a civil penalty proceeding with a maximum amount of $1 million, along with criminal proceedings and other suits can also be initiated (Sweeting, 2017). Thus, it is important that companies around the world, where this law prevails must follow the requirements closely and comply accordingly with all the stated rules and guidance. Now the thought of the hour is how effective are these policies and how helpful have they been to the companies and the shareholders. This can be deciphered from the various civil and criminal proceedings that have been initiated against the companies in lieu of the non-compliance with the stated laws. But there are still incidences happening with respect to insider trading and price sensitive information is still being used for personal benefits by private parties. It is very important that more strict rules must be formed to prevent companies and dealers in indulging in these kinds of activities. This is very important with respect to the financial wellbeing of the country (Maynard, 2017).

Effectiveness of Continuous Disclosure

Conclusion

Based on the above analysis and the case study, it can be said that it is very important that companies should follow this policy of continuous disclosure and provide correct and accurate information on a timely basis. This must be in practice more than on paper and strict actions must be taken against companies who indulgences in any defaults. This must be done to ensure the security of the shareholders, like in the case of Bellamy the shareholders suffered huge losses, because they were not provided with correct information at the time required. It is also necessary that timely audit of the companies listed on the stock exchange must be done and proper audit reports must be provided to the stock exchange (Han, et al., 2017). It is the duty of the stock exchange to do proper screening before listing the company and defaulters must be banned from trading their securities. This will help in improving vigilance and marketing the financial situation of the companies in question more secure. Also the “carve out” option that is provided to the companies must be more strict, so that companies do not use the same as a veil to avoid complying with the disclosure requirements that they need to comply with (Chariri, 2017).

Abbott, M. & Kantor, A., 2017. Fair Value Measurement and Mandated Accounting Changes: The Case of the Victorian Rail Track Corporation. Australian accounting Review.

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Han, B., Subrahmanyam, A. & Zhou, Y., 2017. The term structure of credit spreads, firm fundamentals, and expected stock returns. Journal of Financial Economics, 24(1), pp. 147-171.

Maynard, J., 2017. Financial accounting reporting and analysis. second ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Prasad, P. & Chand, P., 2017. The Changing Face of the Auditor's Report: Implications for Suppliers and Users of Financial Statements. Australian Accounting Review.

Sweeting, P., 2017. Financial Enterprise Risk Management. Second ed. UK: Cambridge University Press.

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