Financial transparency from publicly traded enterprises is one of the cornerstones of modern corporate law. The Securities and Exchange Commission leans one set of forms more than others to achieve this goal. The 10 series includes the 10-Q, 10-Q/A, 10-K, and 10-K/A. Such forms serve as the backbone of the quarterly and annual financial reporting system.
If your company has reached the point it needs to submit these forms, congratulations are in order. When you're done celebrating, you should meet with a corporate lawyer to learn about these three vital factors.
There are three groups of corporations under the umbrella of the 10 series reporting system. These are accelerated filers, large accelerated filers, and regular registrants. All such companies register with the SEC and must submit reports once a financial quarter.
Accelerated and large accelerated filers must report within 40 days of the end of the fiscal quarter. Regular filters have 45 days.
Form 10-Q is the standard quarterly report. At the end of the fiscal year, you can file a Form 10-K without also filing a Q. If you must make amendments or corrections, you'll use the 10-Q/A or 10-K/A respectively.
Only U.S. companies have to file these forms. Overseas firms with public listings on U.S. exchanges have to file 20 series forms, except for Canadian corporations. America's northern neighbors will file from the 40 series. However, the implications are very similar to what you'll see in the 10 series.
Notably, the information and forms go into a publicly-accessible database. This operates within the EDGAR system, and anyone can access it if they want to know the financial state of a corporation. When the SEC says transparency, they mean it because most reporting firms are publicly traded or at least important to the financial system.
The SEC encourages firms to follow the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices. If your business has advanced to the level of a publicly traded corporation, an accountant should have put it on the path to using GAAP years ago.
Reports leave a lot of room for presenting your accounting as you handle it. However, it's wise to include totals for basic and diluted shares outstanding, revenues, liabilities, and equity. You should also include information about investments, losses, charges, and taxes.
Data standardization isn't strictly necessary. It's wise to remember, however, these forms aren't just about playing nice with the government. Savvy shareholders, potential investors, and short-sellers make their fortunes by reading these forms. The market will punish mistakes long before the government does.