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Disclosure reform an idea worth pursuing

Joe Mont | December 31, 2018

Although many investor advocates deride the term, there is indeed “disclosure overload.” As the number of pages grow, attention spans fade. Put a crucial financial metric or regulatory disclosure in a five-page document and it is hard to miss; the same data in a 300-plus page filing is nearly impossible to find.

Concerns about data bombardment apply not only to the length of these disclosure documents, but how frequently they are published. As the quarterly reporting rush is increasingly engineered to appease fickle investors, day traders, and hedge funds, there is the risk of short-term thinking that displaces long-range strategies that are even more beneficial to long-term investors, including the majority of Americans whose only exposure to the stock market is within the relatively safe confines of 401(k) plans.

Over the years, under the leadership of various chairmen, the Securities and Exchange Commission has flirted with ways to rethink its disclosure regime...

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