Financial Conduct Authority  

Regulators ease reporting rules amid market turmoil

Regulators ease reporting rules amid market turmoil

The Financial Conduct Authority has granted listed companies an additional two months to publish their annual accounts in a temporary relief in the unprecedented market turmoil caused by the coronavirus. 

In an joint statement with the Financial Reporting Council and Prudential Regulation Authority published today the regulator confirmed companies would now be given six months in which to publish their full audited financial statements, an increase on the usual four months. 

The FCA said: "The coronavirus pandemic is causing companies of all types to re-think and re-plan almost all aspects of their business and operations.

"We recognise that some companies, given the nature of their operations, may feel it appropriate to maintain the four month calendar, but we would urge all those companies that feel it appropriate to utilise the additional two months to do so."

The regulator said making use of the extra time would be a sensible decision to make for a "great many companies in unprecedented times" and urged market participants "not to draw undue adverse inferences".

Last week the FCA asked all listed companies to delay publishing any financial accounts by at least two weeks in light of the current market turmoil and warned issuing preliminary statements ahead of a full audited report was adding "unnecessary" pressure on companies and auditors. 

In today's update the FCA said this voluntary request had been "well observed" and had given companies with pre-scheduled results the opportunity to "absorb recent events and give them due consideration as they prepare their disclosures".

In their joint announcement the FCA, FRC and PRA said the latest moratorium could end on April 5. 

The FCA added: "We strongly recommend that listed companies review all elements of their timetables for publication of financial information in order to make appropriate use of the time available within regulatory deadlines to ensure accurate and carefully prepared disclosures."

The regulator said the coronavirus pandemic was causing companies of all types to "significantly adjust their business and operations". 

It added: "Financial reporting is important, and the practical challenges of completing financial statements during the coronavirus pandemic are significant.

"Companies and auditors should be granted time. Without a shift in market practice, the relief we and our partner agencies are announcing today will not be effective."

Investors have been urged by the FCA, FRC and PRA to take into account the "unique set of circumstances" arising from Covid-19 which could result in uncertainty for a company's financial position. 

The regulators said whilst the reduction in market activity associated with the pandemic could be "sharp and large" it was likely to "rebound sharply" once social distancing measures were lifted.

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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