Risk disclosure and firm risk: Evidence from Canadian firms

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Michel Coulmont ORCID logo, Sylvie Berthelot ORCID logo, Caroline Talbot


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In recent decades, financial and accounting regulators have turned the spotlight on risk management and disclosure. Like securities regulators in the United States, the United Kingdom and several other countries, Canadian Securities Administrators have set out requirements for the disclosure and discussion of risks in the MD&A section of annual reports. Responding positively to these new guidelines, organisations now report many risks in their MD&A. These disclosure requirements are intended to provide information about a company’s material risks to help stakeholders understand and evaluate interrelated risks, the risks’ impact and the company’s risk management strategies (Khandelwal, Kumar, Verma, & Pratap Singh, 2019). However, since the nature of the risks disclosed derives wholly from organisational decisions, the content of these disclosures can be considered voluntary. For this reason, some critics argue that risk disclosures are by and large boilerplate in nature (Bao & Datta, 2014; Hope, Hu, & Lu, 2016). From this perspective, this study aims to examine whether there is a relationship between the risks firms disclose in their annual reports and their systematic risk. The regression analyses were carried out on the risks disclosed by a sample of 200 Canadian companies included in the 2016 Toronto Stock Exchange S&P/TSX Composite Index. These analyses revealed a positive and significant relationship between the risks disclosed and the firms’ systematic risk. Our results support the regulatory approaches respecting this type of information adopted by a number of countries. Accordingly, disclosing the risks that companies face should help small investors understand and appreciate them.

Keywords: Risk Disclosure, Firm Risk, Reporting, Regulation

Authors’ individual contribution: Conceptualization – S.B and M.C.; Methodology – M.C. and S.B.; Validation – C.T.; Formal Analysis – M.C. and S.B.; Investigation – S.B. and M.C.; Writing – S.B.

JEL Classification: M48, M40, G32

Received: 23.01.2020
Accepted: 05.03.2020
Published online: 16.03.2020

How to cite this paper: Coulmont, M., Berthelot, S., & Talbot, C. (2020). Risk disclosure and firm risk: Evidence from Canadian firms. Risk Governance and Control: Financial Markets & Institutions, 10(1), 52-60. http://doi.org/10.22495/rgcv10i1p4