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Integrated Reporting Catches On, PwC Reports

Tammy Whitehouse | September 6, 2013

The idea of voluntarily reporting to investors much more than the minimum required financial information is starting to gain traction among major public companies, according to PwC.

A handful of major companies, like Microsoft, Prudential, Clorox, and Coca-Cola, have signed on as members of the International Integrated Reporting Council's pilot program to help develop a framework for integrated reporting, which focuses not just on financial results but on all the strategies and activities companies undertake to create value over time. The IIRC sought consultation on a draft framework and collected comments from around the world. The Council expects to finalize the framework in December.

The recent deployment of an inaugural series of standards on sustainability reporting has further piqued companies' interests, says Kathy Neiland, a PwC practice leader for sustainable business solutions. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board recently issued voluntary standards for companies in the health care sector to follow, and companies are increasingly taking note of investors' interested in knowing more than just the financial status of the company, she says. PwC published a summary report based on its professionals observations of some changes that are rumbling on the landscape.

“On the reporting side, it's being driven by many things,” says Neiland. “Companies have been making long-term investments in their overall business models, but it isn't necessarily coming through to stakeholders who are on top of these things. The story and the clarity of the strategy is not coming together in the financial statements alone.”

PwC says stakeholders are calling for more reporting of corporate responsibility and other factors that affect business performance. Integrated reporting adds to the core financial statements information on how a company creates and sustains value over time, the firm says. That includes, for example, how companies manage factors such as supply chain issues in an increasingly global economy and how that affects the company's strategy and business model.

The recent completion of SASB's initial standards in particular has caused companies to pay closer attention, says Neiland. The Securities and Exchange Commission has not said whether it might consider requiring companies to follow SASB's standards, but companies are already curious about whether they should brace themselves for that possibility, she says. “Companies are starting to think about how to more prepared and efficient,” she says.