New proposal could mark end of annual report.

Plans to make company information more available could spell the death of the traditional annual report, according to the chairman of the committee which developed the proposals, writes Ben Griffiths. Deloitte & Touche chairman Martin Scicluna, who has led a sub-group of the government’s Company Law Reform Steering Group, said a major concern was shareholders’ inability to access financial information before City institutions. ‘The aim is faster reporting, more transparency and more immediate information,’ Scicluna said. The proposals would also see the emphasis shift from the annual report – which is normally published four to five months after the year end – to the preliminary financial statement, which tends to catch newspaper headlines and influence the market. Under the plans, preliminary results would be put on the web and e-mailed to shareholders to allow ‘equality of information’ between finance professionals and shareholders. ‘It is a major overhaul in financial reporting,’ Scicluna said. ‘In years to come, the preliminary statement should go out to all and sundry electronically and at the same time. That would be the main financial statement.’ The plans emerged two weeks after the Accounting Standards Board unveiled proposals to allow businesses to give shareholders simpler and more accessible versions of annual accounts.

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