Improvement in dividends disclosure
The quality of dividend policy disclosures has improved, according to Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) Financial Reporting Lab.
The Financial Reporting Lab identified developments in how companies describe their dividend policies, the risks to dividend payments and the factors that were considered in setting the policy.
Fifty-eight per cent of FTSE 100 companies now disclose information about distributable profits or distributable reserves, an increase from 40% in 2015.
Progress in the FTSE 250 has been less significant with 30% of companies making such disclosures.
Phil Fitz-Gerald, Director of the Financial Reporting Lab, said, “We are pleased that companies have responded to what investors asked for in the Lab’s report findings in 2015. Investors find this information particularly useful to evaluate the board’s stewardship of the company and assess prospective dividends. “We urge more companies, particularly those outside of the FTSE 100, to take on board the findings of the original Lab report to improve their disclosures in the coming reporting season.”
The Financial Reporting Lab recommends four ways in which disclosures could be improved:
1. Identifying the links between the dividend policy and the potential impact of the company's principal risks and viability;
2. Enhancing the disclosure on any constraining factors to dividend payments;
3. Explaining more fully what the policy means in practice;
4. Clarifying where profit is generated in the group, how profits might flow to the top of the company and any relevant constraints (current or potential) to that flow.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting transparency and integrity in business. The FRC sets the UK Corporate Governance and Stewardship Codes and UK standards for accounting and actuarial work; monitors and takes action to promote the quality of corporate reporting; and operates independent enforcement arrangements for accountants and actuaries.
As the Competent Authority for audit in the UK the FRC sets auditing and ethical standards and monitors and enforces audit quality.
The Financial Reporting Lab was set up, and is funded by, the FRC as a hub, bringing together companies and investors to support improvement and innovation in reporting.
(References : Financial Reporting Council)