What you need to know about conciseness in integrated reporting

The <IR> Framework has seven guiding principles. The fifth guiding principle articulates the importance of presenting information that is concise.

What is a concise report?

When drafting your integrated report, you face a difficult balancing act. You must include sufficient information to satisfy your stakeholders, but too much information can overwhelm your reader and make the report difficult to use.

A concise report is one that only includes the most pertinent information in an easily digestible format. When applied correctly, the concise principle demonstrates readability and relevance of an integrated report. To ensure your report has the right amount of information, refer to the guiding principles of materiality, completeness and comparability along with conciseness.

What does the framework say?

The framework says that an integrated report:

“must be concise and include sufficient context to understand the organisation’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects without being burdened with less relevant information”

Some practicalities

Reconsider including full financial statements – rather include summarised financial statements and narrative on financial highlights and challenges. Standard Bank’s 2017 integrated report record their financial information in the form of a financial review. Their annual financial statements are referenced in a separate document.

Before including a full governance report, consider including links to other, more detailed and specialised reports outside the integrated report. For example, refer to Barclays Africa Group Limited’s 2017 integrated report.

Before including details on projects that might not be considered material, include an overview of organisational activity and case studies highlighting the most material projects and happenings. You could also include visual spreads to convey chunks of information in easily digestible formats. Tsogo Sun Holdings Limited’s 2016 report was awarded an EY Integrated Reporting Award for conciseness. We think their report is to the point and materially appropriate. Access it here.

Instead of repeating information, use internal cross references and icons to avoid repetition. Liberty Holdings Limited’s 2017 integrated report is concise with user-friendly icons that refer the reader to external reports, as well as internal page references and the investor section of their website. Access it here.

If you require further guidance on reporting concisely, contact Alchemy Creative Studios: info@alchemycs.co.za

This is the fifth article in a series of seven relating to the <IR> Framework guiding principles. Return to our blog to read more on these principles.

For more reading on conciseness refer to https://www.fm-magazine.com/news/2017/dec/managing-the-length-of-annual-reports-201717989.html.