Accountability in changing times

FTSE 350 corporate reporting trends in 2017

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2016 was a year of relatively little regulatory change, which is reflected in the limited evolution of annual reports over the period. However 2017 brings a number of new requirements and associated challenges for companies and we believe this brings an exciting opportunity for companies to do more.

Why are we focusing on the annual report?

The annual report remains an important source of information for investors. In their May 2017 Long Term Reporting Guidance the Investment Association stated that “A company’s annual report is an important source of information for investors, and the primary means of communication to the market”. Evidence from this year's research confirms that the quality of a company’s annual report is indicative of the quality of reporting across other channels. We have always seen the ability to produce a good annual report as a sign of good reporting discipline within a company generally, and our research bears that out.

 

Our key findings

Our review focused on 4 key areas of the strategic report:

Forward-looking perspective

  • More use of forward-looking language
  • External perspective more common than company specific insight
  • Use of explicit timeframes is still unclear

Risk disclosures

  • Increased discussion around risks, risk management and indication of risk changes
  • But descriptions of risks themselves and mitigating activities lack specificity

Integration

  • Improvement of quality of individual disclosures
  • However, there is more work to do to link these together to create a coherent story

The business model

  • Continued improvement
  • Increase in those recognising importance of resources & relationships
  • More could explain what makes their business unique

A more accountable annual report

Business is under unprecedented scrutiny and are operating in a new age of accountability. But there is little sign of this revolution in annual reports. Companies will need to make a step-change in their reporting if they are to keep up with and respond to changing demands of stakeholder. We believe now is the time to really shake things up.

Only between 40 and 50% of corporates and investors believe annual reports show that stakeholders are taken into account in decision-making and appropriately engaged with.

“We applaud those companies taking risks and innovating in their annual reports but our findings show that even in the areas that have improved there is still a lot of work to do. After 15 years of our Building Public Trust Awards we really do have to ask whether the progress we see across the FTSE 350 is enough.”

Mark O’Sullivan – Head of Corporate Reporting, PwC

Contact us

Mark O'Sullivan
Head of Corporate Reporting
Tel: +44 (0)20 7804 3459
Email

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