US President Donald Trump asked securities regulators to explore replacing quarterly reporting requirements with half-yearly filings at the urging of executives including PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi, reigniting a debate about how often companies should give financial updates to investors.
Such a switch would mark a huge change in the US Securities and Exchange Commission's disclosure requirements and put them in line with European Union and United Kingdom rules.
Trump said on Twitter that meetings with business leaders had convinced him that the change would give companies more flexibility and reduce costs.
“I'd like to see twice, but we're going to see,” Trump told reporters when asked about his tweet. He said Nooyi, who will step down in October after 24 years at PepsiCo Inc, had brought it up to him.
Nooyi said in an e-mailed statement, “Many market participants, as well as the Business Roundtable which we are a part of, have been discussing how to better orient corporations to have a more long-term view ... My comments were made in that broader context, and included a suggestion to explore the harmonization of the European system and the US system of financial reporting.”
Some investors and analysts said Trump's argument made sense because it would cut costs of compiling and filing results and remove short-term distractions for those running companies.
Others said quarterly disclosures are essential for investment decisions and support richer US stock valuations, and that a change could make shares more volatile.
The SEC is an independent agency, and the president cannot force it to implement rule changes. Any move to scrap quarterly filings would have to be voted on by the SEC's sitting commissioners, who are political appointees.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said Trump has raised a “key consideration” for US companies and that the agency's “Division of Corporation Finance continues to study public company reporting requirements, including the frequency of reporting.”
Following Clayton's statement, the agency also announced it had voted to adopt a rule change first proposed in 2016 to streamline some company accounting disclosures, in an unscheduled private commission vote.
While capital market rules are not traditionally a partisan issue, a major rule change would likely meet opposition from the agency's two Democratic-leaning commissioners, Robert Jackson and Kara Stein, who generally advocate for strong corporate governance.