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The journey: assuring all of the annual report?

Businesses, investors, accountants, and regulators – we are all on a journey to find the right assurance over the right information in the financial statements, the rest of the annual report, and beyond.

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The journey: assuring all of the annual report?

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Corporate reporting is changing, with businesses able to share more information with more stakeholders more quickly than ever before.

In 2013 ICAEW brought together investors and assurance experts to discuss the potential for assurance over the whole of the annual report.

Four developing scenarios for assurance were set out in this initial concept paper, together with five challenging questions that will need to be addressed as we move forwards.

A single assurance opinion covering the whole of the annual report is one possible outcome, but it is not inevitable. Assurance cannot be regarded as a panacea. If assurance providers want to move towards a single opinion, assurance must be developed as a service that adds value to companies, investors, and society as a whole.

The Audit and Assurance Innovation Panel (TAAIP) has taken a closer look at milestones on the assurance journey, sharing existing best practice and innovative thinking to help assurance providers find their way.

KPIs hit the headlines but they aren’t covered by the statutory audit. This paper looks at the practicalities of using external assurance to give boards and investors the confidence to rely on these important figures.

Good risk reporting enables an investor to make informed choices about risk and return. Assurance brings a level of scrutiny, but should it be internal or external? This paper discusses the possibilities.

The right kind of communication includes the right information – disclosing the wrong mix can be seriously misleading. This paper asks if it is possible to give reliable independent assurance over the completeness of a set of KPIs.

Every business has to make sure that its reporting is right in all the ways that matter to its stakeholders. Materiality – deciding what matters – has to be determined properly by the assurance provider as well, or their scrutiny on behalf of those same stakeholders will not be truly useful. This paper aims to demystify materiality in narrative information for businesses and assurance providers.

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