Observations on integrated reports

By Leigh Roberts
CEO of the IRC

I recently spent time on reading the integrated reports of some of the top 40 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

How nice to see the progression of the reports over the years with some of the latest reports being truly excellent! It really is wonderful to see the commitment by companies to releasing a clear, complete and concise integrated report.

That said, there are some companies that need to work on cutting more of the detail from their reports, as well as closer alignment to the 19 requirements of the International <IR> Framework.

And I have a few other general observations:

  • The notion of shared value is clearly in fashion! My concern is that the reports ended up being predominantly about the positive value created for stakeholders with the outcomes on the other capitals (and indeed the negative outcomes on stakeholders) being understated or even omitted. This effected the balance of the reports. (Keep an eye out for the IRC’s latest Information Paper: Achieving Balance in the Integrated Report which is due to be released early December 2018.)
  • Integrated Annual Report or Annual Integrated Report? I prefer the latter. My reasoning is that Annual refers to the time period (there could well be an interim integrated report released in the future).
  • International <IR> Framework… surprising to find that some companies still get the name wrong.
  • Marvellous to see that some companies had a summarised corporate governance review in their integrated report with a cross-reference to the longer report on their website. (Ditto for the remuneration report.)
  • Disclosure of negative information and outcomes still needs to be searched for in some reports, with few having both financial and non-financial performance and outcomes in their upfront “Highlights of the Year” page.
  • Not enough reports clearly set out the company’s strategic objectives, KPIs and targets for the short, medium and long term. This affects the strategy, performance and outlook sections of the report. Clear communication of this can serve as a useful content thread throughout the report.
  • Definitions of short, medium and long term – as these terms are usually referred to in the report they ought to be defined in the “About the Report” section (because short term to a miner is quite different to that of an IT company).