Better Communication – Making Financial Disclosures More Meaningful
In October 2017, the IFRS Foundation released a case study report showing how companies from different parts of the world have improved communication in their IFRS financial statements. The report – Better Communication in Financial Reporting—Making disclosures more meaningful – contains six case studies from varied industries. Its aim is to illustrate how improvements can be made and inspire other companies to initiate their own improvement projects. Through the use of examples, the report shows that relatively small changes can significantly improve the quality of the financial information that companies provide.
Integrated Reporting Framework Feedback
In October 2017, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) released the results of its first worldwide consultation on how companies are adopting integrated reporting since the Integrated Reporting ([IR]
) Framework was released in 2013. The IIRC study found that the [IR] Framework “is standing up to the test of implementation”. The IIRC has announced a series of guidance, thought leadership and case studies to help clarify, simplify and amplify the move towards integrated reporting internationally.
AASB Outreach: Australian Reporting Framework – Charities
The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) has released a research paper on the current financial reporting requirements for charities as part of its Australian Financial Reporting Framework project. In November 2017, the AASB is hosting outreach sessions designed to inform charities and stakeholders and to assist them in preparing for the upcoming Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission legislative review commencing 3 December 2017.
UK Annual Review of Corporate Reporting
The UK Financial Reporting Council has released its annual review of corporate reporting based on broad outreach and evidence. As in previous years, some of the most common areas of challenge were in relation to judgements and estimates, accounting policies, business combinations and strategic reports. The FRC observed that UK companies “can expect to continue to be challenged on their strategic reports and encouraged to improve where a compliance focused approach leads to a report that lacks balance.”
KPMG Global Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting
KPMG has released it biennial survey of international corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting by nearly 5,000 companies and organisations worldwide. Corporate responsibility (CR) reporting is now standard for large and mid-cap companies across the world. Australia’s top companies are lagging the world average in acknowledging human rights as a business issue, and less than half recognise climate change as a financial risk.
Global Sustainability Reporting Review
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Radley Yeldar have released the fifth edition of Reporting Matters – WBCSD’s annual review of member companies’ sustainability and integrated reports. This review looks at striking the right balance between disclosure and engagement, to help organisations make the most of their reporting process and the significant investment it requires. The review considers reporting by 157 global companies from more than 20 sectors and 35 countries and highlights positive progress in corporate reporting and disclosure as well as a continued movement towards digital reporting.
Revision of Two GRI Standards
The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) has announced a 60-day public consultation period for draft revisions to GRI Standards 303: Water and 403: Occupational Health and Safety. The consultation will run from 10 August through to 9 October 2017 and feedback is invited from all stakeholders. The two Standards are the first of the GRI Standards to be updated according to the GSSB’s formal due process. An expert multi-stakeholder working group has assessed and revised the standards resulting in new drafts that reflect global best practice in sustainability reporting.
ANAO Audit of Annual Performance Statements
The ANAO has reported on an audit of the implementation of annual performance statement requirements under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework. The ANAO identified opportunities for improvements in systems and processes to support performance measurement and reporting. The ANAO outlined a series of key learnings for all entities including presentation of results and analysis, improving processes, assurance and record keeping.
ACNA Makes Reporting Easier
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has launched the 2017 Annual Information Statement with a new Hub, re-designed guidance material and an enhanced online form. The development of the 2017 Annual Information Statement Hub creates a one-stop shop for charities wishing to complete their reporting. The launch of the 2017 Annual Information Statement is significantly earlier than that of the 2016 version of the online form, with the improvements coming after extensive feedback from charities and those that work with the sector.
SMEs and Integrated Reporting
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the International Integrated Reporting Council have released a report designed to help small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs), including non-profits, adopt integrated reporting and realise its benefits. It will also help users understand the benefits of using the International Integrated Reporting Framework, including the flexibility of its principles-based structure and approach. [Note: site registration required for report access]
Evolution of Corporate Reporting
Deloitte in Canada have released a new report in the “Is more less? Exploring a new world of corporate reporting” series. Deloitte outline how the current corporate reporting framework is no longer the only tool for investors to measure company performance. For businesses to tell their performance stories effectively, they need metrics that go past the GAAP framework, especially as fewer and fewer stakeholders are depending on them as their primary source of investment information. Deloitte argues that corporate reporting standards need to evolve and the accounting profession and auditors are imperative to facilitating this much needed change.
The Future of Corporate Reporting?
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has released a report exploring the future of corporate reporting. The ICAEW report captures some thought-provoking views shared by key stakeholders on this subject including whether UK companies are reporting the right information to the right stakeholders in the right way, or if there is more to be done to ensure corporate reports are meeting the needs of users? In the report, ICAEW outline barriers to change and identify principal policy options for further consideration and debate.
Insights into Integrated Reporting
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has released a report on Insights into Integrated Reporting. The review found that reporting quality was high across IR participants, and delivered several common benefits including: more integrated thinking and management; greater clarity on business issues and performance; improved stakeholder relationships; more efficient reporting; employee engagement; and improved gross margins. Areas where reporting could be improved included: identifying and articulating value creation; defining performance measures; improving the materiality determination process; conciseness; and completeness.
Issues Paper: Better Financial Reporting for Australia’s NFPs
In late March 2017, Anglicare Australia, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) and the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) launched an Issues Paper on Better Financial Reporting for Australia’s NFPs (not-for-profits). The Issues Paper discusses how financial reporting and accountability in the NFP and charitable sector can be improved. The Issues Paper is the first step in developing an understanding of how the NFP sector might move forward with a series of 13 questions to facilitate national discussion.
Nordic Stock Exchange reporting guide
In March 2017, Nasdaq’s Nordic and Baltic Exchanges issued a voluntary ESG Reporting Guide to support companies address critical environmental, social and governance (ESG) related matters. As a voluntary initiative, the Nasdaq reporting guide is intended to engage, encourage and support listed companies that strive to meet ESG disclosure requirements.
Making Annual Reports Communicate More Effectively
The 2017 Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) Seminar on Reporting to
be held at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne on Thursday, 22 June will
include speakers from New York, Kuala Lumpur and Auckland who will
present global perspectives and share their experiences with new trends and
new communication technologies that help organisations to engage more
effectively with their various stakeholders.
ASIC Focus on Useful and Meaningful Financial Reports
ASIC announced its focus areas for 31 December 2016 financial reports of listed entities and other entities of public interest. ASIC has called on companies to provide information for users of financial reports that is useful and meaningful. In particular, companies should adopt realistic valuations for asset values, appropriate accounting policies and provide more effective communication of that information. ASIC also noted that auditors of listed entities will be required to issue enhanced audit reports from financial years ending on or after 15 December 2016. These enhanced audit reports will outline key audit matters, being those matters that required significant auditor attention in performing the audit.
Updated Enhanced Reporting Policy Position Paper
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has released a revised and updated version of its Policy Position Paper 8, Enhanced Organizational Reporting: Integrated Reporting Key. IFAC outlines its position that integrated reporting is the way to achieve a more coherent corporate reporting system, fulfilling the need for a single report that provides a fuller picture of organisations’ ability to create value over time. IFAC considers that an integrated report can be used as an “umbrella” report for an organisation’s broad suite of reports and communications, enabling greater interconnectedness between different reports and recognising that there is a range of different frameworks and regulations available, and under development.
Future Trends in Sustainability Reporting
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the international think tank and strategic advisory firm SustainAbility have published the latest insights from the GRI Corporate Leadership Group on Reporting 2025 which explored four key trends fundamental to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: climate change, human rights, wealth inequality, and data and technology. The insights are presented in a new report, Future Trends in Sustainability Reporting, that provides practical guidance to reporting organizations working to respond to sustainability risks and opportunities.
New Collaboration on Integrated and Sustainability Reporting
The GRI and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) have announced a collaboration that will help clarify how companies can use both the GRI Standards and the International [IR] Framework in their integrated reporting – by working with companies through the Corporate Leadership Group on integrated reporting. The aim is to clarify how the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards and the International [IR] Framework can be used together to provide insights into value creation across the six capitals and drive transparency.
Integrating Sustainability and Enterprise Risk Management
This World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) considered the effectiveness with which organisations are identifying, managing and disclosing sustainability risks. Comparing WBCSD member company sustainability and risk disclosures reveals that, on average, only 29% of the areas deemed to be “material” in a sustainability report were disclosed in a company’s legal disclosure of risks. Notably, 35% of member companies did not disclose any of the sustainability risks identified in their sustainability reports in their legal filings.
New International Sustainability Reporting Standards
In October 2016, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) released the world’s first global standards for sustainability reporting, giving companies and other organisations a common language for disclosing non financial information. The 36 modular standards enable reporting entities around the world to be more transparent about their impacts on the economy, the environment and society. The new GRI Standards replace the G4 Guidelines, which will be phased out by 1 July 2018. The GRI Standards are available for free download on the GRI website, along with detailed mapping documents that show all of the changes from G4 to the GRI Standards.
IAASB issues Discussion Paper on Emerging External Reporting (EER)
The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) Integrated Reporting Working Group has released a discussion paper on Supporting Credibility and Trust in Emerging Forms of External Reporting: Ten Key Challenges for Assurance Engagements. The Working Group explore the factors that can enhance credibility and trust, internally and externally, in relation to emerging forms of external reports and key challenges in relation to assurance engagements. The Working Group is seeking input on the discussion paper by 3 February 2017. It is intended to facilitate an open discussion about the IAASB’s potential role and where others can or need to play a role in a holistic and interactive process to support credibility and trust in these reports.
Australian Sustainability Reports and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
The Global Compact Network Australia has outlined that various Australian companies are incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their sustainability reports. For example, the SDGs have been incorporated into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Telstra and Optus sustainability reports. The SDGs offer a common framework for sustainable development that is applicable globally and locally. This common framework and language provided by the SDGs is assisting organisations to shape and prioritise reporting narratives and the disclosures that they make. The SDGs can also help organisations communicate commitments and contributions that create long-term value for all stakeholders.
Value Creation in the Public Sector
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has released a new report providing guidance for public bodies around the world to help them think holistically about their strategy and plans, make informed decisions and manage key risks in order to build stakeholder confidence and improve future performance. The report Focusing on Value Creation in the Public Sector, developed by the IIRC and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) with support from the World Bank, is an introductory guide for leaders on Integrated Reporting to improve their understanding of the services the public sector delivers and the value they create. CIPFA is also developing guidance (due in 2017) to further help public sector organisations implement the International Integrated Reporting
Technology and Next-generation Reporting and Management
The IR Technology Initiative has released a guide for CFOs on using technology to help CFOs collaborate with their Chief Information Officer (CIO) to ensure that technology can enable progressive business management and reporting practice. The IR Technology Initiative is a multi-year program of the IIRC that seeks to build a deeper understanding of how technology can be applied to help progressive report preparers and users to achieve their goals, and to consider how the evolution of corporate reporting is impacting and being impacted by technology.
Disclosure of Sustainability Risks by ASX200 Companies
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) has released its latest benchmarking report on the extent to which ASX200 companies are reporting on sustainability risks. This covers the management and oversight of material, long term environmental and social risks, and the governance of those risks. ACSI’s research found that some 90% of ASX200 companies provided some level of reporting on sustainability factors in their 2015 public disclosures. Of 174 companies surveyed in both 2015 and 2016, 48 upgraded their reporting level, and only eight downgraded.
Enhancing Human Capital Reporting
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has released a new report highlighting the value of reporting on human capital and it also shares some of the developments and experimentation taking place in this area. It identifies the benefits of human capital management and reporting including the particular benefits to be gained from applying the Integrated Reporting framework. The IIRC observes that “Managing and reporting on human capital is challenging, but vital to help organisations create and maximise value”.
Reporting on Corporate Culture
The UK Financial Reporting Council has released a report on Corporate Culture and the Role of Boards. The Council considers how boards and executive management can steer corporate behaviour to create a culture that will deliver sustainable performance. The Council’s report includes a section on “How can boards assess, measure and monitor culture” highlighting that there was strong consensus among UK investors that there was a need for companies to improve reporting on culture and communicate openly about the impact of culture on the business.
UK Digital Reporting Study
The UK Financial Reporting Council’s Financial Reporting Lab (the Lab) is starting a new phase of work on digital reporting. The Lab will work with companies and investors to develop ideas for optimising the opportunities digital reporting offers to companies and investors. The Lab will also consider how the use of technology to communicate corporate reporting might evolve. The Lab published its first report on digital reporting – Digital present – in 2015 covering investors’ views on digital communication used by companies in their corporate reporting.
Transparency in Multinational Corporate Reporting
This report from Transparency International evaluates the disclosure practices of 100 major emerging market multinationals headquartered in 15 countries and active in 185 countries. This report assesses the public disclosure practices of emerging market multinationals based on three dimensions: first, the reporting of key elements of their anti-corruption programmes; second, the disclosure of their company structures and holdings; and, third, the disclosure of key financial information on a country-by-country basis. This information was gathered from corporate websites and other publicly available sources by a team of Transparency International researchers.
ASIC Capability Review – ASIC’s implementation plan
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s response to the final report of the ASIC Capability Review. ASIC is developing its capabilities in six high-level priority areas raised by the Panel’s recommendations including on external governance and performance reporting. A key review recommendation identified that ASIC “continue to refine the performance reporting framework, including consolidating performance reporting (to ensure consistency between reporting frameworks), aligning internal performance metrics, improving the use of performance narrative, and identifying opportunities for more sophisticated analytics, particularly in relation to outcomes measures”. Taking up this challenge, ASIC have been working for some time to further develop the performance metrics it uses to improve the range and precision of information it can provide publicly on its organisational performance.
Companies Limited by Guarantee Audit/Review Obligations
CPA Australia has released a summary guide on financial reporting and audit/review requirements as set out in the Corporations Act 2001 (applicable to companies limited by guarantee) and for each state and territory’s incorporated association legislation. CPA Australia recommends that organisations refer to the relevant state/territory government websites for the latest developments in the legislation. Organisations that are governed under legislation referred to in the CPA Australia guide may also be charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). These organisations should refer to the CPA Australia guide Charities: a guide to financial reporting and assurance requirements.
Statement of Common Principles of Materiality
Eight of the world’s most prominent organisations in corporate reporting have joined together as the Corporate Reporting Dialogue. Together, the organisations have recently released a Statement of Common Principles of Materiality comparing materiality definitions and approaches. The concepts in the Statement represent common foundational principles believed to be broadly consistent with all forms of standards development and business reporting to stakeholders. The Statement demonstrates a commitment by the Dialogue participants to identify practical ways and means by which different reporting frameworks, standards and related requirements can be aligned and rationalised.
Defining what matters – What is material?
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and RobecoSAM, a sustainability investing company, have released a new research report on Defining what matters: Do companies and investors agree on what is material? GRI and RobecoSAM studied 129 sustainability reports from three sectors (mining, metals and electric utilities) to determine if the information companies disclose in their sustainability reports correlates with what investors want to know. There was general alignment between disclosed topics and investor interests. However, investors would like to see more indepth information on the strategic relevance of the topics to the business and companies’ responses considering risk exposure, approach to opportunities, sustainability targets and progress towards them
First Draft of GRI Standards Released
Released in mid-April 2016, the first set of exposure drafts of GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards) is now available for public comment for 90 days. Anyone can review the initial set of GRI Standards and offer feedback to the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB). Comments on the revised format and structure of GRI Standards can be submitted via the GRI Consultation Platform, accessible via the GRI website. GRI Standards will include the same main concepts and all relevant disclosures from G4, in an improved structure, format, and presentation. This first set of exposure drafts includes the three GRI Standards that will be applicable to all organisations:
- the Foundation Standard includes the Reporting Principles and ‘in accordance’ criteria;
- the General Disclosures Standard covers organisational profile, governance, stakeholder engagement, reporting practice, strategy and analysis; and
- the Management Approach Standard includes the G4 disclosure on management approach (DMA).
Applying the Integrated Reporting concepts of outcomes and social and relationship capital
The Integrated Reporting Banking Network have released a report on Applying the Integrated Reporting concepts of outcomes and social and relationship capital in the banking industry. The Banking Network paper helps to clarify some of the issues that banks have raised when preparing integrated reports and provides insights into current practice of banks’ reporting on outcomes. The paper also outlines leading reporting practice and articulates the benefits for banks in reporting on outcomes.
SASB Launches Next Phase of Standards Development
The United States non-profit Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has completed provisional sustainability accounting standards for 79 industries in 10 sectors. SASB is now entering a period of consultation on the provisional standards and proposed process to codify and maintain them.
SASB has opened three key documents for a 90-day public comment period covering the SASB Conceptual Framework, the SASB Rules of Procedure and the Sustainable Industry Classification System™(SICS™). SASB invites feedback on its foundational documents through July 6, 2016.
AASB reporting service performance information – closing date for comments deferred
The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) has released a summary document on the Exposure Draft ED 270 Reporting Service Performance Information. The Exposure Draft 270 proposes to require not-for-profit entities to report information about their service performance objectives and the achievement of those objectives. The closing date for comment on ED 270 has been deferred from 12 February 2016 to Friday 29 April 2016 to allow for further engagement with entities in the not-for-profit sector.
Reporting on Outcomes Using Integrated Reporting – An Information Paper
In December 2015, the Integrated Reporting Committee of South Africa released Reporting on Outcomes – An Information Paper. The Committee aims to increase understanding of the requirements to disclose outcomes or the consequences of doing business in an integrated report. The aim is to assist report preparers, and the executives and board members responsible for guiding and approving integrated reports, in improving their understanding of what the term “outcomes” means while offering some considerations for communicating outcomes in an integrated report.
From Share Value to Shared Value
This 2016 report from the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals Working in Business and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants begins with an overview of the origins of integrated reporting (IR) and outlines how the accounting profession has been involved. The benefits of IR are then discussed along with challenges for IR including developing a materiality matrix and designing integrated information systems.
Singapore Exchange Consultation on Sustainability Reporting
Singapore Exchange (SGX) proposes to introduce sustainability reporting on a “comply or explain” basis and has sought public comment on the proposed rules and guide. This is the next step following voluntary reporting that has been in place since 2011 and will support increasing interest in sustainability information. SGX expects the new rules and guide on sustainability reporting to apply to companies from the financial year ending on, or after 31 December 2017, with reports published from 2018. http://www.sgx.com/wps/wcm/connect/sgx_en/home/regulation_v2/consultations_and_publications
UK Review of Narrative Reporting
The UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has released a report Clear & Concise: Developments in Narrative Reporting which includes practical tools to help companies improve clear and concise reporting. The FRC examines the steps that companies have taken towards clear and concise reporting and highlights emerging best practice in narrative reporting following the introduction of the strategic report and developments in the reporting framework.
EU Public consultation on Non-Financial Reporting Guidelines
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on non-binding guidelines that will set out how large public-interest entities, such as listed companies and banks, could disclose social and environmental information. The guidelines are intended to assist companies in the reporting process, providing them with a methodology that will facilitate the disclosure of relevant, useful and comparable non-financial information. The guidelines will be drawn up in line with the requirements and scope set out in the EU Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups, which applies to large public-interest entities with more than 500 employees. The consultation is open until 15 April 2016.