INTEGRATED REPORTING: YOU NEED TO BUY INTO IT BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY TRY IT

“An annual report? It’s stressful, long, boring…” 

That’s what we hear most of the time, yet it shouldn’t feel that way! The integrated reporting concept was conceived to make things easier for companies going the reporting route, enabling them to make information more digestible and accessible to stakeholders.

These past few years, many Mauritian companies have embarked this adventure and are pleased to have the words “Integrated Report” written on the cover of their report. Unfortunately, most of them do not always apply the International Integrated Reporting Council’s principles, instead using the term as a kind of label to show they are following the trend. Instead of presenting the company’s strategic information effectively, using a more integrated approach, annual reports are comprehensive and complex. And stakeholders tend to lose interest rather quickly!

If we look at our current situation, especially with the impact of Covid 19 on our economy, it makes all the more sense for companies to communicate clearly, effectively and with transparency. It is in their best interest to follow integrated reporting principles if they want to reassure and rally their investors and other stakeholders, whose demands are constantly evolving.

Integrated reporting: what is it all about? 

All listed companies are required to issue an annual report, financial document destined to their shareholders and comprising their accounts and a report of their activities. Annual reports must comply with the standards set out in the Mauritius Companies Act 2001 and the Mauritius Financial Reporting Act 2004, as well as the International Financial Reporting Standards. They deal mainly with financial and governance issues, and communicate information on shareholders’ structure, directors’ remuneration and Board activities, among others. Annual reports are often perceived as a rigid and complex document responding solely to the company’s legal obligations, instead of actually serving shareholders…

Integrated reports invite companies to give an overview of their business model, strategy and performance – including social, environmental and governance aspects -, using simple language and a schematic presentation style. In addition to being an opportunity to share their financial statements and showcase their compliance with imposed standards, integrated reporting allows companies to identify the different resources they use to create value for their stakeholders, to recognise strategic issues and to prevent risks that could impact their performance.

The integrated reporting concept involves optimal and often multi-channel communication. It’s not only about communicating once a year, it’s about communicating effectively and throughout the year, notably through the company’s website, which must be regularly updated. With the emergence of new technologies and the environmental challenges we face today, it is increasingly important to digitalise corporate communication. The number of shareholders opting for digital rather than printed communication keeps growing every year, matching the demand from companies for the development of microsites and the production of video interviews of their CEOs, specifically designed for their annual reports. The goal is to summarise and present the content interactively, which makes information more interesting and digestible for stakeholders.

Annual reports hence become real communication tools bringing shareholders closer together, rather than just a compulsory document that doesn’t even interest them.

The key is to get the help of experts… 

In our experience, most companies are apprehensive about going the reporting route. They are often reluctant to embark this journey because it is a long and arduous process.

At Beyond Communications, we love the corporate world. As experts in corporate and financial communications, we master integrated reporting principles and requirements, and follow them in the writing, design and digitalisation of all our annual report projects.

Our experience is marked by long-term partnerships with a selection of private companies, including large conglomerates, banks and insurance companies, for whom reporting is particularly challenging. Our team has worked on many annual reports in 2018, two of which won awards at the 2019 PwC Awards.