COVID-19: Necessity Is the Mother of Invention
Companies Re-Evaluate How They Communicate with Investors
Listed companies globally are having to re-evaluate how they communicate with their stakeholders during the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic. Temporary precedents have been set as a necessity to help accommodate these exceptional circumstances. But some of these changes implemented for the short-term actually have long-term relevance as businesses look to the future.
For example, results and their sign-off have been postponed, integrated annual reports are being delayed and annual general meetings are being held in virtual environments as companies and their constituents are forced to “self-isolate”.
Many jurisdictions have made provisions to allow for a delay in reporting deadlines. For instance, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has offered an extension of disclosures in the intensive quarterly reporting cycle; and the European Securities and Markets Authority advised national regulators to give issuers flexibility to delay publication of financial reports beyond the statutory deadline.
COVID-19 may be expediting the temporary demise of the physical financial calendar meetings, whether AGMs or results presentations, but the death knell has been ringing on these for years. This is a debate that has long occupied businesses with many moving to more innovative and technology-based formats for their interim and full year results, particularly as companies prove they are “walking the walk” in embracing digitisation. Many would argue that a more dynamic and innovative format should have been adopted along time ago where the C-suite can still maintain critical, interactive relationships with their stakeholders, but without a static, somewhat archaic format.