Elizabeth Moehlenbrock (MBA Class of '15) and Liyuan Su (MSF Class of '15) of the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) recently took home top honors at the Initiative on Rethinking Financial Disclosure - a partnership of the GWSB's Institute for Corporate Responsibility (ICR) and the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ).
The winning pair made recommendations to provide executive summaries of certain 10-K items to highlight year-over-year changes, and to provide more company-specific information, especially in the area of risk.
Announced in May 2014, the initiative was created in response to SEC chair Mary Jo White’s challenge to streamlineForm 10-Kdisclosure requirements.
Multiple teams of graduate students from the GWSB spent five months studying the top concerns regarding corporate disclosure. The students worked in conjunction with ICR associate director John Forrer and faculty adviser Susan Kulp. They also met with SEC Commissioners during the process to discuss their hypotheses and ideas for improvement.
The students ultimately presented their recommendations on how to reduce unnecessary or superfluous reporting requirements to an esteemed judging panel. Innovation and idea practicality were also considered in picking a winning team.
The three-person panel consisted of Andy Cross, CIO, Motley Fool; Catherine Odelbo, head of corporate strategy and partnerships, Morningstar; and the Honorable Mary Schapiro, promontory advisory board vice chair and former SEC chairman.
“All of the presentations were very thoughtful and of high quality,” said Catherine Odelbo, in a statement. “What made the winning ideas stand out was that they focused on company-specific information in an effort to move away from boilerplate disclosures. Changes of this nature are doable, inexpensive, and highly impactful for investors.”
“I applaud all of the teams, along with the CAQ and the GW School of Business, for thinking about what it means to be more open and transparent, and the need to rethink the information that management teams and boards of directors are communicating to investors,” stated Cross. “Transparency is a wave that is continuing to build, and the efforts of the students will contribute to this valuable dialogue.”
The following GWSB students also participated in the Initiative: Rayan Chahwan (MSF, Class of '15); Christopher Haddad (MSF, Class of '15); Elizabeth Halford (MBA, Class of '15); Chang Hyun Song (MBA, Class of '15); Chu (Tracy) Xu (Maccy, Class of '15); and Han (Sadie) Zhang (Maccy, Class of '15.)
Students will now work with faculty advisers to workshop their recommendations into a report that will be presented to the SEC next month.