On 27 January 2021, the FCA published a new webpage reminding firms of the extended financial information timelines that it and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) had put in place last year. These measures include allowing listed companies an additional two months to publish their audited annual financial reports. The FCA and the FRC encourage stakeholders including in particular boards of listed companies to: (i) re-familiarise themselves with the measures; and (ii) use them in light of any resourcing constraints in finance and/or audit teams to ensure the quality of reporting is not compromised.
The webpage also reminds firms that the FRC has issued a series of guidance to support high-quality reporting and disclosure of the circumstances firms have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the mitigating actions they have taken to address risks. Further guidance was also included in the FRC’s year-end letter to CEOs, CFOs and Audit Committee Chairs.
The webpage also draws firms’ attention to the point that it is as important as ever that the market is kept up to date with information. The Market Abuse Regulation remains in force and firms are still required to fulfil their obligations concerning inside information as soon as possible unless they have a valid reason to delay disclosure under the regulation. Firms must continue to assess carefully what information constitutes inside information at this time, recognising that the COVID-19 pandemic and policy responses to it may alter the nature of information that is material to a business’s prospects.