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In the digital age, it ought to be easy to gather data and present it well. But in recent years, producing annual reports has become increasingly pressurized.

This digibook contains a step-by-step guide to overcoming the new challenges of raised expectations, big data, and globalization, with case studies and examples of how smart CFOs are redefining reporting.

Further reading

If we seem to be missing three big ticket items, it’s because they’re covered elsewhere in this series. Check out our three digibooks on Thriving in the Digital Age, Organizational Change and Forecasting

Who will find this digibook useful?

This has been written with CFOs and finance VPs at international companies of all sizes in mind, but our research and case studies also include smaller businesses and public sector bodies, as well as larger multinationals, so any senior finance person will find it useful. It also has insights into the life of the CFO that other C-suite team members may find useful in understanding the challenges and pressures that go into annual reporting.

THE NEW FINANCIAL REPORTING LANDSCAPE

Quarterly and annual reports are the most basic function of the finance department. And they're getting harder every year.

Business is increasingly global; legislation varies wildly between jurisdictions; post-2008 rules are complex, ambiguous, and inconsistently applied (and, of course, can put CFOs in jail if they get things wrong).

The proportion of companies closing their books in five to six days has fallen since 2007 from 47% to 38%.1

Despite this, expectations have gone through the roof. Your C-suite, board and shareholders don't care that their demands are impossible. The smartphones in their pockets, the business dashboards on their SaaS solutions, and the Fitbits on their wrists have taught them that all data can be instant, accurate and actionable.

Not only that, but your shareholders want more and better disclosure. Building your reports around historical performance is no longer enough. They want better integration of everything from risk to governance and relationship management.

Figure 1: POST-CRISIS REPORTING—WHAT DO SHAREHOLDERS CONSIDER ‘OF GREATER INTEREST’?2
  • Risk management
  • Explanation of financial results and position
  • Future plans and prospects
  • Corporate governance policies and procedures
  • Business model and strategy
  • KPIs
  • Directors' remuneration report
  • Stakeholder relationship management
  • Social and environmental policies
  • Promotion of products and services

There are huge opportunities out there—but the expectations that have been created are even bigger.

In this digibook, we ignore the myths to look at how the landscape really has changed, and give you the solutions to meet those changes. At the end, there's an opportunity to build a personal checklist for meeting these new challenges head on.

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