Switzerland
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Transparent reporting engenders trust. Trust facilitates access to the capital market and promotes a company’s good reputation. The past few years have brought constant growth in terms of stakeholders’ entitlement to information and corporate reporting has become increasingly multifaceted. Most of the elements such as the management report, the financial statement or even information related to corporate governance are compulsory for listed companies while others, such as the sustainability or risk reports, are voluntary. The sheer wealth of information, however, comes with a risk that readers might be overwhelmed and presents companies with the challenge of ensuring that the various elements of the report remain consistent and coherent.

International financial reporting (IFRS, US GAAP) has become remarkably complex over the past few years – not least as a result of efforts to create a globally-recognized set of rules and regulations for capital market companies. This initially prompted smaller companies in Switzerland and, increasingly, medium-sized corporations to switch back to the Domestic Standard Swiss GAAP FER and, in doing so, change from the Main Standard to the Domestic Standard of the SIX Swiss Exchange. In relation to the advantages it would bring, a growing number of companies consider the cost of financial reporting based on international standards as well as the risk of making mistakes or overlooking information for which disclosure is mandatory and being punished by the Swiss stock exchange supervisory authority as too high. Given this situation, it is entirely possible that only the really large global corporations will adhere to these over the long term, at least in Switzerland. What that means with regard to Switzerland’s attractiveness as a financial center remains to be seen. From a global perspective and in light of interconnectedness on capital markets, a single “accounting language” is indispensable. The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) also seems to be aware of growing criticism and, under the new leadership of Hans Hoogervorst, is striving to limit accounting to the bare essentials in the future and put a stop to excessive disclosure requirements.

 

Another challenge is the question of how to blend the various dimensions of the report to facilitate interested readers’ access to relevant information. Here the magic phrase is “integrated reporting”. That is the general heading under which the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is working to develop an integrated report that focuses on a company’s business model with the aim of explaining how it intends to generate value in the short, medium and long term. “If the IIRC picks up enough momentum, integrated reporting could evolve into the next reporting megatrend,” says Prof. Peter Leibfried of the University of St. Gallen.