Integrated reporting 'short, sharp and meaningful'

by Rose Orlik

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09 Sep 2011

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A NEW BREED of company report may be a step closer today, after the publication of a discussion paper by the International Integrated Reporting Committee.

Towards Integrated Reporting - Communicating Value in the 21st Century calls for user-friendly documents that clearly demonstrate links between organisations' financial performance and their social, environmental and economic backdrop.

Supporters hope the fresh approach will provide the information stakeholders need without adding to the bloated mass of today's annual reports, which on average run to 175 pages.

A recent survey by Black Sun showed six FTSE 100 annual reports numbered more than 300 pages, potentially adding weight to the IIRC's calls for "clear and comprehensible" missives.

Chairman Sir Michael Peat said: "The range of issues - economic, environmental and social - which determine an organisation's success has never been broader or more pressing. It is for this reason that we need an approach to reporting that is fit-for-purpose in the 21st century. The world has changed - reporting must too."

The IIRC will now develop an exposure draft reflecting responses to the discussion paper, and is launching a pilot programme "to encourage experimentation and innovation among companies and investors".

Deloitte technical audit partner Isobel Sharp welcomed the paper and called on the Department for Business to champion integration, clarity and conciseness when it issues a paper on narrative reporting next month.

Advocating "shorter and sharper" reporting, she added: "The UK is not short on individual disclosure requirements. They have grown like topsy. Indeed, I have noted in the past the similarities between these and Ronnie Corbett monologues, namely lots of diversions."

Stakeholders have until 14 December to comment on the paper.

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