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"Embrace multicapitalism and integrated reporting in all G20 countries." That was one of the key messages from IFAC to G20 leaders ahead of the 2019 G20 summit in Osaka. 

Financial capital represents only a small proportion of enterprise market values. Non-financial information is as important as financial in understanding and communicating value. Therefore, a multicapitals approach to decision making and reporting is crucial to better communicate value and enhance corporate accountability and responsibility.

IFAC strongly supports integrated thinking and reporting as a means to achieve this, and believes that as business leaders, the accountancy profession and professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) need to play a key role in encouraging and supporting the global adoption of integrated reporting.

In May 2019, IFAC surveyed its members to gauge PAOs’ perceptions on integrated reporting progress across jurisdictions, and on opportunities and challenges it brings to the profession, as well as to establish the support needed from IFAC.

49 PAOs responded representing 41 countries.

Key takeaways from the survey include:

1. PAOs are actively involved in integrated reporting related activities

88% of respondents indicated that their PAO undertakes (or is planning to undertake in the next 12 months) some form of integrated reporting related activity. The top three activities were:

  • Inclusion of integrated reporting in conferences or events;
  • Incorporation of integrated reporting into continuing professional development; and
  • Engagement with regulators, policy makers or other influencers about integrated reporting.

In addition, 55% said that their PAO prepares its own integrated report or plans to within the next 2 years.

2. PAOs see accountants as having substantial roles in supporting multicapital reporting

Role of professional accountants in business:

  • CFO/finance leader as a strategic business partner and driver of integrated thinking and reporting and cross-organizational collaboration
  • Advocate for integrated thinking and reporting within their organizations
  • Ensuring multicapital considerations in decision making
  • Facilitating integrated thinking and preparing the integrated report
  • Establishing strong governance and robust processes and controls over wider information collection systems for non-financial data

Role of auditors:

  • Assuring multicapital disclosures
  • Thought leadership and guidance
  • Enhancing transparency and credibility
  • Advocacy and awareness raising
  • Advisory services
  • Engagements to support the preparation of integrated reports

Recognizing the growing demand for assurance over extended external reporting (EER) (which includes integrated reporting), the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) is currently developing guidance on application of its existing assurance standard, ISAE 3000 (Revised), to EER. 

3.  PAOs view adoption of integrated reporting as most likely being achieved through voluntary adoption of integrated annual reports, followed by alignment with existing reporting requirements.

4. PAOs face a number of challenges in facilitating integrated reporting adoption, both at the jurisdictional level, as well as at a PAO level.

At the jurisdictional level integrated reporting is not seen as a priority for organizations and more guidance is needed on how to prepare an integrated report.

Tying in with the jurisdictional challenges, the biggest challenges for the PAO themselves is a lack of interest and demand from members on the topic, followed by the benefit of integrated reporting to organizations not being understood. PAOs also highlighted insufficient PAO staff and resource to dedicate to integrated reporting as a key challenge

5. For support with their integrated reporting activities, PAOs would benefit from more thought leadership and knowledge sharing, further advocacy efforts, training, and implementation guidance.

To support its members on integrated reporting, IFAC’s primary activities to date have been:

Thought leadership and knowledge sharing will continue to be a priority for IFAC. We are working with the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and Association of International Certified Professional Accountants/Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (AICPA/CIMA) to develop an Integrated Value Creation model for CFOs and their finance teams to help them to support their organizations to deliver and communicate long term value creation for customers, investors and stakeholders. This will be available in early 2020.

IFAC’s Policy Position Paper 8 on integrated reporting underpins our policy and regulatory engagement on corporate reporting and remains an important basis for PAOs’ own advocacy on   reporting in their jurisdictions.

For support with training, the IIRC has developed its <IR> Training Programme with 12 accredited training partners, including three PAOs; Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), AICPA, and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA).

The IIRC will also be publishing a getting started guide to help organizations with the preparation of integrated reports, and this should be of use to PAOs and their members.

Building awareness of, and speaking out on, improving the credibility and usability of corporate reporting remains a priority focus for IFAC, and we will continue to monitor developments, including the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB’s) project to update IFRS Practice Statement 1 on Management Commentary, and the relationship between management commentary and integrated reporting.

If you would like to share your success stories and updates related to integrated reporting in an article or via webinar, please do get in touch!

Laura Takamizawa
Laura Takamizawa

Principal, IFAC

Laura Takamizawa is a Principal in IFAC's thought leadership team, focusing on initiatives in support of finance and accounting professionals working in business and the public sector. She was previously an Audit Manager at Grant Thornton, specializing in public sector audit in the UK, and prior to that worked for the Audit Commission. She also spent a year on secondment to the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), where she was responsible for managing their public sector and business network programs.

Laura is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), and holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in Mathematical Physics from the University of Nottingham (UK).