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Companies Lagging on Business Model Reporting; Background Paper Released to Tackle the Issue

Mar 26, 2013 | London, UK and New York, New York | English

Investors and other stakeholders want to know what makes companies tick; at the same time, regulators are increasingly requiring companies to report clearly on their business models. In response, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), and PwC, at the request of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), today released a background paper, Business Model, which highlights the business model as being at the heart of integrated reporting.

Currently, there is wide variation in how organizations define their business models and approach to disclosure. This highlights the need for a clear, universally applicable, international definition of a business model. The proposed definition and discussion in the paper aim to bridge the varied interpretations by highlighting common areas and ensuring a consistent application across industries and sectors.

The background paper found that, in a complex financial climate that has seen investors demand greater transparency, reporting on business models is currently inconsistent, incomparable, and incomplete because of a lack of consistent guidance.

Charles Tilley, chief executive of CIMA said:

“Corporate reporting plays an essential role in the effective functioning of the market economy. Corporate reports have become more complex yet provide less insight to investors on how value is created or destroyed. Integrated reporting will involve a change in mind-set for many organizations as they think about how to better communicate strategy, performance, and prospects. High-quality business model reporting is critical to helping investors better understand performance in terms of the impact external factors have on an organization, and how organizations create value that is sustainable over time.”

Mark O’Sullivan, director, PwC, commented:

“A previous review of narrative reporting practices which are summarized in this background paper shows that very few companies clearly articulate their business model—what they do, what they rely on, and what sets them apart from the competitors. PwC research found that 77% of the FTSE 350 mention business models in their accounts, but only 40% provide insightful detail about those models. And only 8% integrate business model reporting with strategy and business risks.

“This information is critical if investors are going to form a view of how they create and sustain value. The pace of technological change and growing complexity of business relationships will only increase the demand for insights into strategy and business models. It will also challenge the relevance, reliability, and timeliness of the information businesses use to back up reporting of their performance and prospects.”

Ian Ball, IFAC principal advisor and chair of the IIRC Working Group, commented:

“An understanding of the business model is at the center of integrated reporting. Being able to communicate effectively on an organization’s capitals, business activities, products and services, and the outcomes they generate is essential if a company is to communicate how it creates value over time. The concept of the business model is also critical to understanding other areas of integrated reporting, such as the concepts of materiality and capitals.”

The paper comes in advance of the IIRC’s International Integrated Reporting Framework due to be released for comment on April 16, 2013.

In addition to providing the background and the context to how business model reporting should be undertaken in an integrated report, the background paper suggests content for business model reporting to be presented in the proposed framework.

About CIMA
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, founded in 1919, is the world’s leading and largest professional body of Management Accountants, with over 203,000 members and students operating in 173 countries, working at the heart of business. CIMA members and students work in industry, commerce, the public sector and not-for-profit organizations. CIMA works closely with employers and sponsors leading-edge research, constantly updating its qualification, professional experience requirements and continuing professional development to ensure it remains the employers’ choice when recruiting financially-trained business leaders.

About IFAC
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession, dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. It is comprised of 173 members and associates in 129 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.

About PwC
PwC firms provide industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to enhance value for their clients. More than 161,000 people in 154 countries in firms across the PwC network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice. See for more information.

Additional insights into reporting–including business models–can be found at:

PwC paper on Business models

PwC research on reporting–including business models

Laura Wilker
Head of Communications, IFAC


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