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Messages get lost in financial reports

Most businesses believe company financial statements are too long, and key messages are being lost as a result, a survey by accountants Baker Tilly found.

The survey of senior people in company finance departments, including financial directors, found 87% agreeing there was too much "clutter" on statements, and that existing standards lead to a checklist mentality and "boiler-plate" disclosure.

A similar 88% agreed that disclosure of information that is not material can obscure relevant information and that statements should be simplified, to create clearer and more easily understandable documents.

The results of the survey will help inform Baker Tilly's response to the Financial Reporting Council's latest discussion paper, which is looking at improving the quality of financial reporting disclosures and their value to the users. In particular, the paper covers the reduction of "clutter" by avoiding duplication in disclosures and using tests of materiality more rigorously.

Danielle Stewart, Baker Tilly's head of reporting support, said the objections to the length of statements was not surprising.

"What concerned us more was that such a large number felt key messages were lost as a result, a finding that should be of huge concern to finance directors and investors alike."

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