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Return to: Home > Comments > Editor's letter: Rosetta Stone for investors

Editor's letter: Rosetta Stone for investors

Not far from our newsroom in central London, is the British Museum, which houses the Rosetta Stone, a slab on which has been engraved three scripts, one in Egyptian hieroglyphs and two in Demotic and Ancient Greek.

The discovery of the Stone in 1799, by one of Napoleon's troops posted in Egypt, triggered a revolution in our understanding of the ancient world. It featured three versions of the same text, which meant it opened the way to deciphering the enigmatic Egyptian writings.

Similarly it's no surprise that many users of financial statements, especially investors, would require the equivalent of a Rosetta Stone to read between the lines of corporate reports to decode the real story that companies are telling them.

Also not far from our newsroom, in Pall Mall, stands St James's Palace, where the Prince of Wales held a meeting in 2009 of high-profile representatives of accounting bodies, standard-setters, investors and companies, with the goal of creating the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), which was to develop the first integrated reporting <IR> framework.

The aim was to provide an integrated report that goes beyond the financials, connects other relevant metrics, and therefore reveals whether or not an organisation's strategy is likely to create value in the long term. This month the IIRC launched the final version of such a framework, garnering almost unanimous support from the profession worldwide.

During the consultation period of the framework, the chief executive of the US Institute of Management Accountants Jeff Thomson told us that, with all due respect, not everything "coming from the UK and starting with the word 'International' must be wonderful" and therefore his organisation was going to ask "the frank and tough questions".

We caught up with Thomson, who told us he was impressed with the work done by the IIRC, although he said now comes the hardest part. Indeed, now it's time to move from words to deeds. As a market-led initiative, <IR>needs to be used by companies, and investors should make it clear they will reward those companies that report sustainable growth prospects.

Power 50
Together with our sister publication the International Accounting Bulletin, we present the third edition of our Global Accounting Power 50 list, voted for by the profession and a panel of external experts. As my colleague at IAB Ana Gyorkos noted wryly, only eight women made it onto the list. This is worrying, especially as companies will increasing be expected to account for their diversity policies and questions will be asked of them if women are absent from their top tables.

Any attentive observer,however, will have noticed there are only women on our cover this month. This is as much a sincere gesture of defiance, as it is a call for everyone to help to crack wide open, in 2014, the glass ceiling that limits women's careers in our profession to this day.

Carlos Martin Tornero

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