Bland annual reports double in size over the past decade

Annual reports have nearly doubled in length over ten years, and are losing
their ‘individuality’, according to Deloitte.

Reports are now 5% longer than a year ago, with the average length 89 pages.
Annual reports were 45 pages in 1996.

The news will add to concerns that reports no longer work for users of
company information, with endless reams of regulations requiring companies to
issue bland and off-the-peg statements.

Deloitte said it was also finding more evidence of such bland reporting.

The number of ‘formal’ OFRs being produced has also slumped following the
government’s decision to drop the requirement to produce one.

Isobel Sharp, audit partner at Deloitte, said: ‘Every year, we report size
increases in annual reports. This year, another 5% was added to take the average
length to 89. We need action now to reverse this trend.

‘This year reporting also shows that companies are writing to order, with
annual reports’ individuality losing out against uniformity. This may be because
companies are making increasing use of model narrative reports, because of the
need to comply with complex rules and time pressures.’

The number of formal operating and financial reviews has decreased from 41%
in 2005 to 20% in 2006 and 10% in 2007. The reviews, which were to become
mandatory until Gordon Brown dropped it in 2005, contain summaries of a
companies’ performance including CSR issues.

‘Companies are simply dropping the OFR tag to reduce the compliance burden on
them,’ the report said.

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