The regulator has ‘strongly requested’ that all listed companies observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks.
The watchdog says because of the rapidly changing situation due to the Covid-19 outbreak companies may need to give more consideration to their statements and to decide whether it is necessary to publish them at all.
Preliminary financial statements are often issued by listed companies to update investors prior to annual accounts but are not legally required.
In a statement over the weekend the FCA said: “The unprecedented events of the last couple of weeks mean that the basis on which companies are reporting and planning is changing rapidly.
“It is important that due consideration is given by companies to these events in preparing their disclosures. Observing timetables set before this crisis arose may not give companies the necessary time to do this.
“In addition, listed companies and the audit profession are facing unprecedented practical challenges during the Coronavirus crisis.
“The FCA believes the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements in advance of the full audited financial statements is adding unnecessarily to the pressure on companies and the audit profession at this moment.”
The FCA said the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements is common among UK-listed companies but is not required by either the Listing Rules or the Transparency Directive.
Companies are only required to publish full audited financial statements within four months of the financial year end.
The FCA is in talks with the Financial Reporting Council and the PRA about a package of measures aimed at ensuring companies take the necessary time in these “uncertain times” to prepare appropriate disclosures and address current practical challenges and the three bodies intend to announce details shortly.