Dan Brännström

Personligt om näringsliv och samhälle

Etikett: Smart government

Högtidsstund på slottet

Jag är rädd att det inte blir någon jul om jag inte varje december får träffa FAR-medlemmar på Bjertorp Slott. Så stark är traditionen med seminarier på det vackra slottet mitt ute på Västgötaslätten.

Tillsammans med kollegorna Camilla Carlsson och Lena Henriksson på FAR diskuterade vi i fredags ett brett spektrum av områden med de tillresta redovisningskonsulterna och revisorerna.

Stjärnorna på slottet

Stjärnorna på slottet

Camilla avslöjade allt om nya Reko som lanseras i januari 2018. Det blir en standard som utvecklar den goda seden för landets redovisnings- och lönekonsulter. Vi fick också höra hur kvalitetskontrollen redan har anpassats till förändringarna i Reko. Camilla avrundade sedan med att berätta hur branschen kan hjälpa mindre företag att komma igång med hållbarhetsarbete.

När Lena tog över scenen handlade det om nya sätt att marknadsföra och kommunicera. Vi fick höra om den lyckade digitala kampanjen om auktoriserade redovisningskonsulter, och om hur ”nudging” kan vara ett verktyg i profileringen av branschens professioner. Men också om hur byråer kan använda artiklar i Resultat på sina egna webbplatser.

Mitt bidrag till dialogen handlade om hur ny teknik successivt förändrar branschens spelplan. Jag stannade särskilt upp vid de nordiska bolagsverkens projekt ”Nordic Smart Government” som snabbar på utvecklingen mot effektivare rapportering till myndigheter samt redovisning och revision i realtid. Vi kom även in på hur FAR bör ställa sig till revisionsplikt, för den frågan kommer alltid tillbaka.

Det var med en go’ känsla vi lämnade ännu en högtidsstund slottet. Det blir kanske jul även i år.

Kommentera

High time to re-invent the corporate reporting framework

Please find below my speech from the Sustainable Business, Reporting and Assurance Conference (SUBREA) in Lund on November 16th 2017

Good afternoon everyone! My name is Dan Brännström and I’m Secretary General at FAR – the Institute for the Accountancy Profession in Sweden.

My starting point will be how global market changes really do challenge today’s corporate reporting. I’m talking about ever-increasing expectations on transparency, sustainability and serving the public interest. In addition, there is the increased importance of non-financial information and integrated reporting – one way or the other.

Furthermore, new technology is expected to lead to major changes in Corporate reporting. Real-time reporting and auditing is no longer unreachable science fiction. Bolagsverket, the Swedish Companies Registration Office, and its Nordic equivalents are presently working on a concept they call Smart Government. This project is aiming at submission of financial and other information directly from the companies’ systems to one appointed authority, one-stop-shop if you like. And this shall take place in real-time.

One question in particular comes to mind – will there still be a need for annual reports when this becomes reality?

All this means that the organization and processes for the standard-setting in both reporting and auditing must be thoroughly re-invented. In addition, initiatives from one standard-setter must be better synchronized with others.

However, preparers are struggling on. We can see that the quality of financial reports and other corporate reporting is improving every year. Sweden is on top, maybe even the best. For those of us involved in arranging awards for the best financial statements and sustainability reporting this is quite obvious. The financial statements are however becoming far too voluminous. For the 2016 annual reports the average number of pages increased by 4 from 94 to 98 pages for companies listed at Nasdaq Stockholm. The thickest annual report was, in fact, all of 248 pages!

Is anyone really able to digest such a thick document? Corporate reporting must be readily available for different stakeholders.

All I’ve said so far points to a need for a totally new framework or standard setting, since today’s concept is clearly inadequate. Such a framework should focus on what is really creating value.

I’m talking about a totally new corporate reporting that includes both financial and non-financial information in an integrated manner. All the time with the focus on value-creation. And I guess that you could pick up a lot from the proposed framework for integrated reporting (IIRC).

More and more frequently I hear requests in the market place for a more standardized reporting on sustainability, this in order to make that reporting comparable between companies and hence a better basis for decisions. And I believe sustainability aspects will continue to become more and more important and decisive for all stakeholders.

Well, I’m not sure what you think, but my view is that we can’t go on with this current standard setting where IASB is the standard setter for IFRS and GRI, and up to a thousand others are sources for guidance on sustainability reporting. To me it’s absolutely clear that U2 is right – “we still haven’t found what we’re looking for”.

Furthermore, we have the IIRC for integrated reporting.

If we want corporate reporting to be relevant and to focus on value creation it’s high time to re-invent the standard setting process. And I’m not talking about an add-on to IFRS. My conclusion is that IFRS and other standard-setting must be replaced by a totally new framework.

In doing this, we must aim at making the reporting sufficiently accessible. In this context a paper from Accountancy Europe, including a “Core & More”-concept could be a basis for further development. The concept comprises a summary of business activities – that’s the Core part. In order to meet market demands, this should be prepared in a rather standardized format. It shouldn’t be too voluminous. Maybe 30-40 pages. Everyone can manage to read that.

In addition to this, there is in-depth information available regarding areas such as sustainability, risk, internal control and detailed financial information – that’s the More part.

Obviously, we should apply new technology to – as far as possible – make reporting accessible in real-time. This means, as mentioned earlier, that the annual report will become less significant.

What about audit or assurance on this new, let’s call it integrated corporate reporting?

There are all kinds of possibilities. Anything that is measurable can be subject to audit or assurance. And everything in this world is in fact measurable. I’ve learnt that from working together with technical researchers at the Swedish Research Institute RISE.

At least, the Core-part is the part that ought to be subject to audit or assurance. In doing this the auditor must apply an overall view. That reminds me of the fact that audit is closely related to the word audition – you can almost hear that – which means listening, observing and then setting a grade.

The auditor of tomorrow must be able to make a statement on this kind of integrated corporate reporting. And that will greatly contribute to a reliable, relevant value-creating reporting. In real-time.

Thank you for listening!

6 kommentarer

Behövs årsredovisningen?

”Jag tror inte på digitaliseringen, det är bara något som Dan Brännström snackar om”. Ungefär så sa en kollega i samband med en akademisk studie. Och jag måste erkänna att ibland känns det som att jag ropar ”vargen kommer”.

I senaste FAR-podden gästas vi av Annika Stenberg, Bolagsverkets nya generaldirektör, och Mattias Segerbrand, auktoriserad redovisningskonsult vid Saldo Redovisning. Det är ett spännande samtal om hur digital rapportering förändrar spelplanen för branschen. För Bolagsverket och dess motsvarigheter i de nordiska länderna undersöker nu hur företag ska kunna rapportera i realtid till en enda myndighet som sedan delar informationen med andra. ”Smart government”, kallas projektet.

Detta väcker naturligtvis en rad frågor. Vad händer med årsredovisningen, behövs den överhuvudtaget? En annan handlar förstås om hur branschens affärsmodell påverkas. Eller är detta bara ännu ett rop om att ”vargen kommer”?

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