ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
The proposals to require new disclosures relating to the company’s strategy and business model are welcome. This initiative has the potential to add significantly to users’ understanding of the direction in which the board is taking the company, and will allow those users to assess how successfully the board is accomplishing its mission.
—John Davies, head of technical, ACCA

ACCA’s (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Global Forum for Business Law has urged the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to work towards a coherent framework for the future structure of narrative reporting in the UK

BIS is proposing that companies produce a stand-alone strategic report to accompany what will remain of the existing directors’ report. While ACCA says that it supports the broad direction being proposed by BIS, it is anxious that the strategic focus of the new report remains strong, and clear distance is created between it and what will become a more compliance-orientated directors’ report. 

ACCA’s Global Forum, which is made up of 14 expert members, sees these reforms as part of a shifting landscape of narrative reporting, and believes that the plans for the restructuring of the directors’ report should take into account the work currently being undertaken by bodies such as the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the IIRC in this area.

John Davies, head of technical at ACCA, says: 'BIS is proposing that quoted companies should report on a number of new issues, including their strategy, their business model and their policies and practices on human rights issues. There are also proposals for information to be disclosed on the number of men and women on companies’ boards.

'The proposals to require new disclosures relating to the company’s strategy and business model are welcome. This initiative has the potential to add significantly to users’ understanding of the direction in which the board is taking the company, and will allow those users to assess how successfully the board is accomplishing its mission.'

John Davies continues: 'The future of narrative reporting is, however, likely to entail a fully joined-up approach in which the various factors that are material to a thorough explanation of the company’s strategy and performance are woven together so that a coherent picture is given. The proposals from BIS do not provide such a framework, so it is important that sufficient scope is allowed in the statutory format for narrative reporting practice to develop naturally. Given that the EU is shortly to publish its own proposals for statutory narrative reporting, the BIS proposals will also need to be consistent with future EU requirements in this area.'

ACCA supports the introduction of new disclosure requirements on gender equality in the boardroom and within individual companies, but does not believe that it would be appropriate for them to form an obligatory part of the new strategic report. It is important that the new report remains focused on an explanation of strategy and performance against strategy, and information that is not material to this explanation should not be seen as a necessary part of it. 

The Global Forum is also keen to see that the new UK measures should allow companies the freedom to frame their strategic reports in ways that they believe best communicate how they see their company’s progress against strategy and its future prospects. 

John Davies concludes: 'Narrative reporting is an important tool for communicating information which puts a company’s financial results in a wider context of internal and external factors. Focussing the mind of directors on this purpose can only be a good thing for the future of reporting in the UK.' 

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For more information, please contact:

Alana Sinnen, ACCA Newsroom
+ 44 (0) 207 059 5807
+44 (0) 7715 812120
alana.sinnen@accaglobal.com 

Helen Thompson, ACCA Newsroom
+44 (0)20 7059 5759
+44 (0)7725 498654
helen.thompson@accaglobal.com 

Notes to Editors

  1. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 
  2. We support our 154,000 members and 432,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,400 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence. 
  3. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.