Financial Reporting


Private-Sector Group to Focus on Disclosure

In April, the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the SEC established a private-sector group that will develop ideas to improve public disclosure of financial information by banking and securities organizations.

Walter Shipley, recently retired chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, will head the Working Group on Public Disclosure, comprising senior executives from domestic and international banks and investment organizations.

Explaining what the task force is expected to accomplish, Shipley said its role was advisory and that it had to “come up with recommendations for expanding financial disclosure, particularly for large, complex financial organizations from both the banking and nonbanking sectors.”

Prompted by the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999, which allows consolidation among banks, securities firms and insurance companies, the new group was formed to examine aspects of public disclosure practices of banks and financial service organizations including risk exposure.

According to Stuart Kaswell, general counsel of the Securities Industry Association, which coordinates the interests of investment banks, broker-dealers and mutual fund companies, establishing this new advisory body will enhance disclosure and develop market discipline within the industry.

Shipley said the regulators believe that the better the quality of disclosure by the private sector the less need for “heavy-handedness.” “It is in our interest to make sure that our investors understand what’s in our balance sheets and income statements. A lot of the information is really complex.”

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