September 24, 2014

Expert Panel Selects Winning Ideas in GW/CAQ Initiative on Rethinking Financial Disclosure

Extensive report on student recommendations to improve 10-K filings to be delivered to the SEC Next Month

Washington, DC – An esteemed panel of judges has selected a set of winning recommendations made by George Washington University graduate students participating in the Initiative on Rethinking Financial Disclosure (the Initiative). The students—Elizabeth Moehlenbrock (MBA Class of 2015) and Liyuan Su (MSF Class of 2015) of the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB)—took the Initiative's top honors with their recommendations to provide executive summaries of certain 10-K items to highlight year-over-year changes and new information, and to provide more company-specific information, especially in the area of risk.

Judging the student's recommendations was a three-person panel including Andy Cross, Chief Investment Officer, Motley Fool; Catherine Odelbo, head of corporate strategy and partnerships, Morningstar; and the Honorable Mary Schapiro, Promontory Advisory Board Vice Chair and former Securities and Commission (SEC) Chairman.

“I commend the students for the great deal of effort and focus that they devoted to this important project,” said Schapiro. “Everyone can benefit from fresh perspective on a complex issue such as financial reporting disclosure. The students have made a valuable contribution to this ongoing dialogue.” 

Announced in May 2014, the Initiative is a partnership of the GWSB's Institute for Corporate Responsibility (ICR) and the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ). The Initiative was created in response to SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s challenge to streamline Form 10-K disclosure requirements.

As a part of the Initiative, multiple teams of graduate students from the GW School of Business spent five months intensively studying the top concerns regarding effective corporate disclosure. The students worked closely with ICR Associate Director John Forrer and Faculty Adviser Susan Kulp, as well as steering committee members Barbara Van Allen, CAQ Senior Director of Stakeholder Relations and Communications, and Linda Eddy, CAQ Director of Stakeholder Relations. Additionally, the students sought input from an advisory committee—co-chaired by Cynthia Glassman, Senior Research Scholar, ICR, and CAQ Executive Director Cindy Fornelli—comprised of leading academics, practitioners, and others. They also met with SEC Commissioners during the process to discuss their hypotheses and ideas.

The students’ efforts culminated with presentations to the judging panel on their recommendations for ways to reduce unnecessary or redundant reporting requirements, while maintaining the integrity and value of the information for investors. The judges also considered the practicality of the ideas and their level of innovation. 

“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,” said Cross of The Motley Fool. “Transparency is a wave that is continuing to build, and the efforts of the students will contribute to this valuable dialogue.”

“All of the presentations were very thoughtful and of high quality,” said Morningstar’s Odelbo. “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.” 

The following GWSB students also participated in the Initiative: Rayan Chahwan, MSF Class of 2015; Christopher Haddad, MSF Class of 2015; Elizabeth Halford, MBA Class of 2015; Chang Hyun Song, MBA Class of 2015; Chu (Tracy) Xu, Maccy Class of 2015; and Han (Sadie) Zhang, Maccy Class of 2015.

Students will now work with faculty advisers to compile their recommendations into a comprehensive report which will be presented to the SEC next month. 

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About the CAQ

The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) is an autonomous, nonpartisan public policy organization dedicated to enhancing investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets. The CAQ fosters high quality performance by public company auditors, convenes and collaborates with other stakeholders to advance the discussion of critical issues requiring action and intervention, and advocates policies and standards that promote public company auditors’ objectivity, effectiveness, and responsiveness to dynamic market conditions. Based in Washington, DC, the CAQ is affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. For more information, visit www.thecaq.org.

Contact: Erica Hurtt, CAQ
202-591-2601

About The George Washington University School of Business
GW’s School of Business is an international leader in education and research, which prides itself on training future leaders to be global problem solvers and socially responsible managers. The school leverages its prime location—in the heart of Washington—by attracting visiting scholars and leaders in the business community to work, teach and engage with students on campus. The depth and variety of its academic and professional programs, including five specialized master’s programs, provide rich opportunities for academic engagement and career development for students in the school’s core Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration and doctoral programs. 
Visit: business.gwu.edu.

Contact: Dustin Carnevale, GW
(202) 994-3674

About The Institute for Corporate Responsibility 

The Institute for Corporate Responsibility (ICR) officially received its Charter from George Washington University in October, 2006. The institute is devoted to the development and dissemination of scholarship, including research and teaching pertaining to corporate responsibility. It serves as a vehicle for continuing education, curriculum development, conferences and seminars each of which will address needs of the School of Business, GW University, and the wider Washington, D.C. community. 

ICR leverages its location to become a leading resource to the business community through business associations and the policy community through federal agencies, Congress, local and regional governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations. By fostering such a business-university-government partnership—US and global—the ICR presents a unique knowledge creation and dissemination asset on our campus, building scholarly capacity for our faculty and students, and enhancing GW's prestige worldwide. The aim of the ICR is to be the world's leading intellectual center for scholarship in the field of corporate responsibility and to be recognized as such. For more information, visit business.gwu.edu/icr.