European companies need to be more consistent and transparent in their non-financial reporting, according to 93% of respondents to a survey by Eurosif and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
A total of 84% of respondents agreed established standardised reporting frameworks need to be used by companies to achieve both those aims.
The vast majority felt that current non-financial reporting is not sufficiently comparable (93%) and that non-financial information should be better integrated with financial information (92%).
While 69% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that current non-financial information published by companies is linked to the CSR policy, 74% felt it was not linked to business strategy and risk and 93% said that sufficient information was not provided to quantify the materiality of non-financial factors in financial terms.
Although qualitative policy statements were deemed important in assessing financial materiality by 77%, this was substantially less than the 97% of respondents who viewed quantitative key performance indicators as essential.
The survey was in response to the European Commission’s proposed new non-financial disclosure requirements for all large companies in the EU, to be made through amendments to the EU Accounting Directives.
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ACCA’s sustainability advisor Gordon Hewitt said: "The feeling of the survey’s results is that policymakers could improve upon the Commission’s proposals by looking at introducing mandatory ESG KPIs; encouraging the use of and harmonisation of existing reporting frameworks to increase comparability; and improve accountability mechanisms for non-financial information.
"There was also the opinion that companies affected by this proposed legislation would benefit from guidance on how to put these new measures into practice."
ACCA survey received 94 responses to the survey from analysts and investors from 18 countries.