Is a whole new business reporting model needed?

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11 Dec 2003

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales has published New Reporting Models for Business, a report aimed at widening debate on how businesses should report to their various stakeholders.

The report examines issues such as whether a new conceptual framework is needed; the degree to which business reporting can serve multiple stakeholders and a broad range of decision-making needs; reporting on intangibles; and transparency and commercial confidentiality. The report does not put forward its own new reporting model, but rather it analyses the models that have already been proposed and raises a series of questions for further discussion and research. The 11 models analysed are:
  • The Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan and Norton)
  • The Jenkins Report (AICPA)
  • Tomorrow's Company (RSA/Tomorrow's Company)
  • The 21st Century Annual Report (ICAEW)
  • The Inevitable Change (ICAS)
  • Inside Out (ICAEW)
  • Value Dynamics (Arthur Andersen)
  • GRI (Global Reporting Initiative®)
  • Unseen Wealth (Brookings Institution)
  • ValueReporting® (PricewaterhouseCoopers)
  • The Hermes Principles (Hermes Pensions Management)
The report notes:

None of these models, whatever their merits, has so far succeeded in commanding general support. At present, they provide a collection of interesting and challenging ideas, many of which seem to have little prospect of widespread implementation....

Some may feel that more wide-ranging reforms should take second place for the foreseeable future to such pressing concerns as the improvement and implementation of IFRS. But the criticisms of business reporting referred to in this report did not suddenly appear at the height of the bull market and they will not disappear as and when companies are using a common set of international accounting standards. When these issues have been dealt with, the fundamental questions that the reformers raise will still need to be addressed. Indeed, unless they are addressed it might not be possible to restore or maintain confidence in business reporting.

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