FRC climb-down on abolishing printed reports

THE FINANCIAL REPORTING COUNCIL has been forced to do a U-turn on proposals to abolish hard-copy annual company reports in favour of online-only documents.

Stakeholders said scrapping paper copies could disadvantage older investors or those with limited internet access, while others argued it is easier to read and compare reports in printed form, as opposed to on a screen.

The FRC revealed: “Opposition to this proposal was not confined to private investors. Stakeholders from other groups expressed concern that online-only information could be altered after publication and considered that hard-copy reports provide an important safeguard against such behaviour.”

However, it countered: “Companies should [still] give careful consideration to the ways in which technology can improve access to annual reports.”

Simon Laffin, former chairman of pub chain Mitchells & Butlers, was among those who shouted down the FRC’s online aspirations. He told the Financial Times: “One key lesson of the digital economy is not that people want everything online, but that they demand information in a variety of ways.”

The decision was revealed yesterday in the FRC’s Effective Company Stewardship: Next Steps report, which called for greater transparency in corporate reporting and an extension of the audit committee’s remit.

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