The pace of change in corporate reporting is accelerating fast, putting significant pressure on the CFOs and finance leaders responsible for its preparation. Today, as the world confronts major societal challenges such as climate change, it is important that the approach to communicating corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance should evolve faster and earn the trust of stakeholders.
Alongside the traditional financial reporting CFOs and financial controllers oversee, investors and other stakeholders are looking for consistent and credible ESG disclosures on material issues that can help them understand how a company creates long-term value and sustainable growth.
The requirement for CFOs and finance leaders to shift the quality and scope of corporate reporting – or enhanced corporate reporting – is the theme of the 2021 EY Global Corporate Reporting Survey (pdf), which examines the perspectives of more than 1,000 CFOs, financial controllers and other senior finance leaders. The data is available to explore in an interactive tool, which allows you to view and compare findings across countries and industries.
The study identified two important themes:
- There is an increasingly urgent requirement for CFOs and finance leaders to align ESG reporting with financial reporting, and close the disconnect with investors and other stakeholders on ESG disclosures. Scrutiny of ESG performance has accelerated significantly, but there is a gap between investors and companies on how useful and material current ESG reporting is, with companies also underestimating investor desire for comparability from consistent standards. CFOs and finance leaders should define what role they and their teams could play in ESG reporting and focus reporting on material disclosures.
- Creating enhanced reporting can require CFOs and finance leaders to make significant changes to people and leadership approaches, as well as advanced analytics and forecasting capabilities. Forward-thinking CFOs and financial controllers should collaborate and build effective C-suite and external stakeholder relationships to help drive a more cohesive approach. They should also build the advanced analytics capability to extract insights from data and reboot the approach to financial planning and analysis (FP&A) to create more agile scenario planning capabilities. This will likely require a rethink of the career path for finance people to help future-proof talent and provide the necessary skills.
These insights form part of the EY CFO Imperative Series, which provides critical answers and insights to help finance leaders reframe the future of their organization.
By Tim Gordon
This article originally appeared at https://www.ey.com/en_us/assurance/how-do-you-transform-data-into-insight and is republished with permission.