Policy round-up: COVID-19

The impacts of COVID-19 are having a profound effect on companies and their financial communications. Over the last few months, we have seen regulators and standard setters release pragmatic advice and guidance on corporate reporting, results announcements and AGMs.

To keep our clients up to date, we have summarised the various pieces of guidance and regulatory updates in chronological order below which we hope you will find useful.

We will continue to update the list as more information becomes available.

15 June: Two new reports from the Financial Reporting Council’s Lab were issued today providing practical guidance to companies in areas of reporting that investors have highlighted as being most critical.

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. 

8 June: Updated guidance about AGMs
The FRC has provided updated guidance for AGMs by adding Guidance on best practice for AGMs to its previously published Q&A.

15 May: Updated guidance about company filings and AGMs during COVID-19
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has updated their advice to companies on their company filings and AGMs.

13 May: Interim Reporting
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has updated their guidance, including for companies preparing interim reports.

30 March:
Auditor Reporting Bulletins
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has issued three updated bulletins as guidance for auditors preparing a range of reports.

FRC and the Chartered Governance Institute
27 March: Updated guidance about AGMs and the impact of COVID-19
The guidance provides advice on how listed companies might implement contingency plans in light of the compulsory ‘Stay at Home Measures’.

London Stock Exchange
26 March:
AIM listing reporting in light of COVID-19
The latest 'Inside AIM' newsletter sets out temporary changes relating to an AIM company’s obligation to publish annual audited accounts in accordance with the AIM Rules for Companies (“AIM Rules”).

26 March COVID-19 Joint Statement
Further guidance for companies and auditors dealing with reporting issues arising from COVID-19.

Companies House
25 March: Companies to receive 3-month extension period to file accounts during COVID-19
Businesses will be given an additional three months to file accounts with Companies House to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.

24 March:
Employers do not have to report gender pay gaps
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have taken the decision to suspend enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year (2019/20).

23 March: Corporate Reporting moratorium
All listed companies should observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks, to give due consideration to rapidly changing unprecedented events.

17 March: Guidance on AGMs and contingency planning
Guidance about company AGMs and the impact of COVID-19 in order to support businesses and their shareholders.

16 March: Guidance on audit issues arising from the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic
List of key things auditors need to consider regarding the impact of COVID-19, ranging from the auditor’s risk assessment, how the auditor gathers appropriate audit evidence, and the assessment of going concern and prospects.

18 February: Advice to companies and auditors
Companies should consider whether to refer to the possible impact of COVID-19 on their business in their reporting of principal risks and uncertainties. Where mitigating actions can be taken, these should also be reported alongside the description of the risk itself. The carrying value of assets and liabilities might also be affected with a need to perform additional impairment tests and to assess whether leases have become onerous. 

Next steps
Managing effective communications with investors in times of uncertainty is critical. To aid our clients we have developed a short communications checklist which can be found here.

If you would like to discuss any of these points with us here at Luminous, please get in touch.

Stephen Butler, Harriet Rumball and Sophie Bradley
Luminous Investor Engagement
strategy@luminous.co.uk or Tel: 020 7101 1677