Annual reports millstone gets heavier

Annual reports are seven pages longer this year than last year, a 7%
increase, and are expected to bulk up further over the next 12 months.

According to a report by corporate consultancy Merchant, FTSE 100 reports had
increased by eight pages to an average of 140, while FTSE 250 statements had
expanded by four pages to an average of 92.

Of the top 500 companies surveyed, the increase had been from an average of
92 pages to 99.

The revelation that reports are increasing in size as a whole will add to
concerns about increasing regulation, which is thought to be driving the
increases. HSBC said earlier this year that the postal service had restricted
the number of its annual reports that the postman could carry at any one time,
given its bulk.

Isobel Sharp of Deloitte said the impact of narrative reporting requirements,
the second Turnbull review on internal controls and new auditor remuneration
disclosures had increased reporting requirements. She believed the ‘endless
disclosure’ would increase further this year with IFRS 7’s introduction.

She said: ‘It’s actually a case of: “The more you explain it, the more I
don’t understand it”.’

The news comes as Accountancy Age readers back MP John Redwood’s plans to
slash red tape.

Asked whether the Tories would be successful in cutting regulation, more than
half said ‘yes’ and that ‘John Redwood has his head screwed on’.

Redwood, co-chairman of the policy review group on economic competitiveness,
has proposed cutting a swathe of money laundering rules and slashing corporation
tax. The Tory leadership has as yet stopped short of endorsing the proposals.

Of around 200 people who took part in the poll, a third said that, though
government parties promise to cut red tape, few achieve it. Only 5% said David
Cameron would not pursue Redwood’s ideas, and a 5% said regulation was good for

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