Factors affecting MD&A disclosures by SEC registrants : views of practitioners
Faculty of Applied Economics
Journal of international accounting, auditing and taxation
, p. 45-59
University of Antwerp
This study identifies factors influencing the preparation, scope and content of management discussion and analysis (MD&A) reports provided by SEC registrants. We interviewed U.S., Canadian, U.K., and Australian financial executives during the period December 2009 to May 2010 to better understand how the reporting environment affects managers ability to provide useful disclosures. Interviewees agree MD&A should be through the eyes of management; however, many describe a tension between statutory requirements and providing relevant information for investors. Some believe MD&A is useful for analysts and investors as a summary of the past year and by functioning as a benchmark. Interviewees frequently view other media as more timely and having a different disclosure tone. The backward-looking nature of MD&A is perceived as a weakness. Other limitations on MD&A usefulness arise from limits on non-GAAP measures, lack of forward-looking information (i.e. legal liability issues) and reluctance to release competitively sensitive data. Our findings reveal by-country institutional differences. Canadians note less impact of regulatory differences, due to SEC dispensation in their reporting requirements and similarity of U.S. and Canadian reporting requirements. U.K. and Australian preparers more frequently remark on fundamental differences between U.S. and home reporting environment, citing greater freedom at home with fewer restrictions on non-GAAP measures and lower legal risk.