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UK’s Financial Reporting Council: Move Annual Reports Online, away from Print

ComputerWorld UK reported that the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has called for companies to publish searchable, online-only versions of their annual reports.

This is part of the accounting watchdog’s recommendations for companies to improve accessibility to annual reports for investors. It presented its proposals in its ‘Effective Company Stewardship: Enhancing Corporate Reporting and Audit’ report.

The FRC believes that the annual report and accounts to be posted on a company’s website, rather than produced in print,” it said in its proposals.


Posted on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 01:11PM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | Comments1 Comment

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The FRS's recommendation, without XBRL, will make little difference. Certainly they suggest )page 11) that "Companies should take advantage of technological developments to increase the accessibility of the annual report and its components." As there is no "requirement", then the reports on the web will still be HTML / PDF type documents, just as error prone, unparsable ('un-parse-able' - that cannot possibly be a word, but...), and of exactly the same value as a paper, printed report, but only after you actually print a copy of it.

This gets right back to the "logical cave wall" that I talked about. Humans transmit "structured data" to each other through objects that can enter through the eyes. That makes all readable information, including this computer screen, a "logical cave wall". XBRL is designed to break that paradigm, comprehensively. Unfortunately, not all regulators understand that all investors and users of company information will benefit from "structured data" that has been disconnected from the "logical cave wall".

Going half way by the FRC is not new (in terms of XBRL). In October 2009. the FRC (Financial Reporting Council - UK) released a discussion paper - "Louder than Words" on financial reporting complexity and relevance. I responded to that discussion paper. My response is here: http://raasconsulting.com/Documents/FRC%20Complexity%20-%20RAAS%20Consulting%20response.pdf

Key points:
1. Complexity is not the issue: Reliance on a "document-centric" model of reporting is the issue.
2. XBRL is not mentioned in their paper: Reduction in complexity and improved relevance requires XBRL tagged reports so that consumers can access information they want.
3. CSR/ESG: There are too many standards, but reporting should be included.

In quick summary, I don't actually think that this is a threat to any data aggregator or financial printer (what goes on the web will still be produced by the printers - there is after all no suggestion of removing a requirement to report to the regulator).
January 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Roberts

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