SAN DIEGO, CA: John White, director of the division of corporation finance at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), issued a “wake-up call” to the attendees of the National Investor Relations Institute's (NIRI) annual conference, speaking about the role of technology in IR during his remarks here on Monday.
The speech, titled “SEC: The Evolving Regulatory Landscape,” focused on XBRL, the electronic business reporting system that will be used for the first time in financial filings for next March, e-proxies, the optional use of the Internet to provide shareholders with proxy materials, the use of hyperlinks and blogs, and corporate Web sites.
“Communications is a big theme for the SEC,” White said. “Companies, more and more, are using corporate Web sites to provide information that we require. We at the commission are on board with this and we want to encourage it.”
White also emphasized the need for all communications to adhere to the “word and spirit” of the SEC's regulation.
“The issue for IROs is information, when you put it out, will be accessible to a whole host of people that you wouldn't expect,” said Jeff Morgan, president and CEO of NIRI. “[Technology] is affecting how you tell [your company's] story. We're moving from static information to living, breathing information.”
A technology theme is running throughout the conference, with larger “breakout” discussions of e-proxies and blogging and a variety of vendors with technology-centered offerings on the exhibition hall floor.
The increased use of the Internet and other technology tools is part of the transformation of the IR function, one that is balanced against rules such as SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and Reg-FD.
“Change is a huge theme for us now,” Morgan said. “[Companies] are getting a lot closer to investors. IROs need to understand that.”