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Businesses have a growing number of reporting choices available to them.

Is integrated reporting here to stay?

Corporate reporting fads come and go, and the widespread adoption of reporting frameworks requires considerable advocacy by those seeking to promote their adoption as accepted practice.

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Sydney
The fear of making forward-looking statements because of a lack of a reliable legal defence for directors getting it wrong has very likely had a chilling effect on integrated reporting in Australia. There may be some inhibitions about making forward statements in other jurisdictions, but in Australia the warning is particularly loud and clear. The Australian Institute of Company Directors has told its members to refrain. This situation is a great shame. Investors should be able to rate a company on the intellectual strength and farsightedness of its governing personnel. Forward-looking statements help to do that. It's not about getting it right all the time; it's about how the company sees the future, and what possible responses it has to that future. Amending the Corporations Act to appropriately strengthen the defences in the case of an honest and diligent director getting a forecast wrong would be responsible legislation. Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer would do well to bring this uncontroversial reform to Parliament as soon as possible.

Senior Sustainability Manager, Sydney Metro Northwest
My own expectations of integrated reporting have been high and I’ve looked to be quite evangelical about it, after initially having some serious doubts and scepticism about its potential. There is a lot of good thinking behind integrated reporting but the doubt is starting to creep back because it now faces the hurdle of proving its worth to those who are so wedded to, and comfortable with, financial reporting that they don’t want change. There are also many companies claiming to be producing integrated reports that are simply not anywhere near its intent – thus confusing the market and reducing stakeholder expectations that this really is a new and transformative approach to reporting. Part of the challenge here is that it’s a principles-based framework rather than a prescriptive standard, inviting interpretations that water down the concept. Clarity, understanding and consistency are all needed when you are selling an idea like integrated reporting to a change-resistant market. There is a narrow window of opportunity with implementing important ideas and new ways of doing things and I wonder how soon the window will close for integrated reporting. The higher the expectations for something like this, the greater the risk that if it doesn’t bite soon enough the moment will pass and the opportunity will be lost.

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