Beyond the balance sheet – Regulatory changes are pushing the boundaries of corporate reporting

by Darren Clare

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The corporate reporting landscape is changing. As investors and other stakeholders demand more relevant disclosure in corporate reports, new legislation, frameworks and guidelines are pushing organisations towards broader definitions and discussions of value creation.
In the UK, the preparation of strategic reports in line with Financial Reporting Council (FRC) guidance demands improvements in quality and relevance. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)’s G4 standards are stringent in their focus on materiality. And in the EU, recent legislation has extended requirements for large companies to disclose non-financial information within their management reports.
While 2016/17 hasn’t been quite as busy on the regulatory front as previous years, there is still plenty that companies need to consider. While the disclosure of financial performance remains paramount for the investor community, there is increasing momentum towards a more holistic view of the way a company creates and sustains value. Indeed, various new measures suggest the days of the narrowly-focused annual report are numbered. These include:

  • 2016 Corporate Governance Code – effective June 2016

A revised version of the UK Corporate Governance Code; implements certain aspects of the EU Audit Directive and Regulation; encourages Audit Committees to consider the clarity of their reporting.

  • APMs – effective July 2016

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)’s Guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures (APMs); promotes greater transparency in the use of non-statutory metrics in corporate disclosure.

  • EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive – effective January 2017

Places new requirements on companies with over 250 employees relating to diversity, anti-bribery and corruption, non-financial due diligence, non-financial risks, and disclosure of policies on non-financial issues.

  • Mandatory gender pay reporting – effective April 2017

Requires large companies to publish an annual online statement on their gender pay gap.
For those companies that want to engage with best practice reporting, these developments are critical. More and more, companies are being encouraged to rethink their approach to managing and reporting on their intangible assets – on those aspects of their business that don’t show up on their balance sheet. The view once articulated by Albert Einstein, that “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts,” seems to be gaining traction.

Arming your business with information

At Stratton Craig, we can help your reporting teams understand and navigate these regulatory changes and keep pace with the shifting trends in corporate disclosure. As part of our corporate reporting training, we offer insight and guidance on key focus areas within the corporate reporting landscape, such as sustainability and integrated reporting, as well as practical advice on language, storytelling, tone and style.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help evolve your approach to corporate reporting get in touch with one of the team today.

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