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Rise to the Challenge

All auditors can help companies to better navigate the complexities of corporate reporting. The latest Audit insights report offers lots of advice on how, explains Lesley Meall.

Perspectives on corporate reporting span as broad a range as stakeholders. 'Audited reports and accounts are key to high-quality corporate reporting,' says a regulator. 'They provide external reassurance that our systems are robust and appropriate and trigger regular reviews of our policies and procedures,' says a CEO. 'I want more useful information in reports and accounts,' says an investor. 'If we carry on trying to be all things to all men, the annual report will be 1,000 pages long by the end of this century,' says a CFO, and an auditor adds: 'More companies could use technology to restructure their annual reports to better communicate and connect with users.'

Many stakeholders see audited annual reports and accounts as a useful and reliable reference point that provides the information they need to inform decision making and hold companies to account.Some see room for improvement. However, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and trying to do so has contributed to the complexity and information overload that now characterises some annual reports – and frustrates some stakeholders.

The annual report has become a compendium of the different reporting requirements that have been placed on companies and which, despite their individual value, may combine to obscure a vital function. 'Some annual reports are too long and can make it difficult to hold companies to account for their performance,' says Henry Irving, head of the faculty. Audit insights: corporate reporting (see box opposite) suggests ways that auditors and other stakeholders can contribute to a solution.

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