TechnologyReal-time a paperless goal

Real-time a paperless goal

Achieving real-time reporting may be like trying to achieve the gold standard of a paperless office, some have suggested

It has not yet happened, but does that make it a bad idea?

It takes 1,853 trees to produce the paper for the print-run for a big
company, an Australian newspaper columnist has pointed out.

And even then, the information is eventually sent to the dustbin, ignored by
investors who want simpler information which give more on what their hard cash
is working towards as opposed to how it’s been handled.

The argument for real-time issuing of data, made last week by a coalition of
the ‘Big Six’ firms is that investors would have information at their
fingertips.

Senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Peter Wyman said everyone seemed to
be complaining about financial reporting: ‘But it’s really a matter of put-up or
shut-up. It’s incumbent for everyone to enter into this debate.

‘What we’re saying is that information moves markets. The information that
investors require is not always the information that regulators want rules
on…its important to get the two aligned and shareholders need to be more active
than they have been in the past,’ said Wyman.

How would it be audited? Wyman says the internal processes, from which the
data emanates, would have to be audited.

The US however is the only place that has so far expressed its approval of
real-time reporting, and the SEC the only regulator to fully embrace it through
the extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). But it has not exactly taken
off.

Critics have come out saying it is quality, not quantity of information that
they want. In other words,

information that is useful, and that will not drastically affect
share-prices, leading to volatility of otherwise stable companies.

Senior finance directors last week publicly criticised the concept, saying
investors wanted information that was more reliable and relevant.

The chances of real-time reporting becoming possible are strong, given
strides in technology and the current existence of software that can do the job.
But is it something that people will actually use?

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