TechTalk Blog: Integrated Reporting: Inspiring Companies for Better Disclosure

By Brad Monterio posted 02-17-2015 08:35 AM

  

When I think of what it takes to inspire others around us towards the same goal, I am often reminded of a quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery, a French writer/poet and aviator who died in the 1940s:

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

When I look at the worldwide effort around integrated reporting (<IR>), the latest evolution in corporate disclosure, Exupery’s quote resonates with me.  Inspiring the global business community to focus on – and want to achieve – the end goals for <IR> much like longing for the ‘endless immensity of the sea,’ the leaders of the <IR> movement are doing just what Exupery envisioned. 

So by now you’re asking yourself ‘what is integrated reporting’? Included in the February 2015 issue of the IMA’s “Strategic Finance” magazine is my feature article providing an overview of integrated reporting (<IR>) and a Q&A with some of the leaders of this global effort to bring this newly evolved type of corporate disclosure to companies and their stakeholders. 

Paul Druckman, CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has led a global consortium of stakeholders in corporate reporting to create a framework that guides the development of integrated reports.  Version 1.0 of the <IR> Framework was released in December 2013.  The Framework contains guiding principles, content elements and other information (these are like the ‘wood’ and ‘tasks’ in Exupery’s inspirational quote) to help companies create their own integrated reports – their ‘ships’ to navigate the immense sea of corporate disclosure.

Although the Framework provides the proverbial wood and tools to build these reports, Druckman and other experts realized this is not enough to achieve full potential for <IR>.  Stakeholders need to be inspired… to connect with the vision of <IR> and to understand its true goals and outcomes – better, more comprehensive and meaningful information that helps them understand how a company will create value over the short, medium and long term.  This is what gets them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  This is what builds the passion to evolve their current disclosures into something more effective… for themselves as well as all their external stakeholders.  Druckman and IIRC collaborators are talking to companies, investors, analysts, regulators, NGOs, media and others about the vision of <IR> and the value it brings, not just the machinations of how companies build the actual reports – the ‘ship’ in Exupery’s world.

Professor Robert (Bob) Eccles of Harvard Business School has been an early leader and pioneer of evolving corporate reporting to focus on both material financial and non-financial information.  Bob’s most recent book on <IR>, “The Integrated Reporting Movement: Meaning, Momentum, Motives and Materiality” (Wiley, November 2014 and sequel to his previous book, “One Report”) takes readers through the key issues and factors for <IR> and how they focus on material disclosures.  I encourage you to read Bob’s book and be inspired to action within your own organization towards <IR>! 

Technology of course plays a role in any reporting today, including <IR>.  Jeff Thomson, CEO of the IMA, is our representative to the IIRC Governing Council and a strong supporter of leveraging technology in accounting, finance and business in general.  Take a look at the Strategic Finance article this month for some of Jeff’s insights on this issue and others related to <IR>.  Also look for additional IMA guidance around <IR> in the coming months, including Statements on Management Accounting (SMAs), sessions at the 2015 IMA Annual Conference in Los Angeles, and more.  And of course continue to visit the Technology Community for more discussion about <IR>, particularly around the role of technology as an enabler for aggregating data, reporting, sharing of information, advanced analytics, connecting information, disseminating data, providing context and structure for information, and other hot topics!

IMA TECH TALK WEBINAR ON INTEGRATED REPORTING – MARCH 10th

Be sure to register for the inaugural IMA Tech Talk webinar (developed on behalf of the IMA Technology Solutions & Practices Committee) called “Integrated Reporting and Integrated Thinking: Which Comes First?” featuring Paul Druckman and Bob Eccles on March 10, 2015.  I will be moderating this distinguished panel of experts so I hope to see you online. Please share any questions you would like asked of them either in the comments to this blog or by sending me a message through LinkUp IMA. 

In the interim, I hope you’ll join me on the journey to <IR> across the immense sea of corporate disclosure!

- Brad Monterio, Vice Chair, IMA TS&P Committee and IMA Global Board Member

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