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Dec 2009

Financial reporting supply chain

Financial reporting has changed radically over the past ten years. New technology and more sophisticated performance metrics have increased the amount and quality of information generated by businesses. The accounting standards environment has become more international, and governance continues to be a major issue for management, shareholders and regulators, focusing them on the quality of corporate reporting.

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) commissioned a project to discover the effects of developments in the financial reporting process over the past five years. Has it become better or worse? Have financial reports become more or less relevant, reliable and understandable? What should be done next?

This research project was chaired by Norman Lyle, recently retired as group finance director of Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong and a former President of CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Its survey of 341 contributors to the financial reporting supply chain – the people who prepare, audit, disseminate and use these reports – revealed that governance has improved as a result of recent changes. Equally important, respondents said the balance between the cost of producing financial reports and their benefits has also shifted positively.

This report summarises the findings of the IFAC survey and interviews. It also includes contributions by leading figures in the financial reporting supply chain who attended a CIMA hosted round-table debate on the subject, chaired by Charles Tilley, Chief Executive, which covered the four key areas in the IFAC study:

• corporate governance

• the financial reporting process

• the financial auditing process

• the usefulness of financial reports.

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Financial reporting supply chain

One way or another there is that need for more qualitative information.

Michael McKersie The Association of British Insurers