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SEC Adopts Significant Amendments to Regulation S-K and Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer Definitions 

by Marc Adesso, Joe Bucaro, Bari Ray

Published: September, 2020

Submission: September, 2020


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted several significant amendments affecting disclosure requirements under Items 101, 103 and 105 of Regulation S-K and also expanded the definitions of “Accredited Investor” and “Qualified Institutional Buyer” under Rule 501(a) and Rule 144A, respectively.

As SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton, announced in the press release, Items 101, 103 and 105 have not undergone significant revisions in over 30 years. The Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer definitions. meanwhile, have not undergone changes in some time.

The changes are part of the SEC’s larger push to streamline disclosure requirements (for example, see our post on the SEC’s disclosure simplification rule updates here) and relax entrance requirements for investing in private capital markets. The amendments come on the heels of other recent modernization efforts by the SEC, which include amendments that allow companies the ability to list directly on NYSE in certain instances, as is discussed in more detail in a recent Waller blog post which can be found here.

Regulation S-K Updates

The SEC adopted amendments to Item 101 (Description of Business), Item 103 (Legal Proceedings) and Item 105 (Risk Factors) under Regulation S-K. Items 101, 103 and 105 disclosure is required in many SEC filings, including registration statements such as Form S-1, and annual and quarterly reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q. The SEC noted in its final rule that these amendments were made to enhance the readability of disclosures, discourage repetitive and immaterial disclosures, and reduce compliance burdens on companies. The amendments are summarized in the below table, but the full slate of changes can be found in the SEC’s August 26th press releases that can be found here and here.

Disclosure Requirement:

Reg S-K Item 101(a) and (c) - Description of Business

Item 101(a)

  • now requires only disclosure of information material to an understanding of the general development of the business, and after a registrant’s initial filing, only requires material updates of the general development of the business
  • Replaces the previously described five-year timeframe with a materiality framework

Item 101(c)

  • clarifies and expands its principles-based approach, with a non-exclusive list of disclosure topic examples
  • Changes disclosure topics by including (1) a description of the registrant's material human capital resources and (2) all material government regulations, not just regulation related to environmental laws, to the extent such disclosures would be material to an understanding of the registrant's business.

Disclosure Requirement:

Reg S-K Item 103 - Legal Proceedings

  • expressly states that the required information may be provided by hyperlink or cross-reference to legal proceedings disclosure located elsewhere in the filing in an effort to avoid duplicative disclosure.
  • implements a modified disclosure threshold for certain governmental environmental proceedings resulting in monetary sanctions that increases the existing quantitative threshold for disclosure of those proceedings from $100,000 to $300,000, but that also affords a registrant some flexibility by allowing the registrant, at its election, to select a different threshold that it determines is reasonably designed to result in disclosure of material environmental proceedings, provided that the threshold does not exceed the lesser of $1 million or one percent of the current assets of the registrant

Disclosure Requirement:

Reg S-K Item 105 - Risk Factors

  • requires summary risk factor disclosure of no more than two pages if the risk factor section included in the filing exceeds 15 pages
  • Item 105 now requires (1) disclosure of “material” risk factors and (2) that the risk factors are organized under relevant headings in addition to the sub captions currently required. Further, any risk factors that may generally apply to an investment in securities must now be disclosed at the end of the risk factor section under a separate caption


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