The journey: assuring all of the annual report?

Assurance engagements have been developed to support business information in many different situations, and the common pattern of development has been one of a journey.

In the case of assurance over the annual report, there are a range of views as to where this journey should take us. Four scenarios for assurance are 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 ICAEW Narrative Assurance Working Party has been formed to explore the challenges and opportunities involved in assurance over the annual report. This concept paper sets out our initial observations and challenges, as a contribution to the current debate on assurance over narrative reporting. It will be followed by a longer report, exploring the issues in more detail.