An interview with Jessica Fries, Executive Chairman, The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S).
Why does your organization support <IR>?
A4S’s mission is to inspire action by finance leaders to support a fundamental shift towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy. We focus on developing practical tools that finance teams can use to adopt an integrated approach to decision-making – in other words, enabling ‘integrated thinking’.
As one of the founders of the IIRC, we have always seen integrated reporting as a vital development to enable organizations to be able to explain to their investors more effectively how they are creating a sustainable business model and creating long term value, in particular given the increasing pressure on the resources and relationships upon which organizations rely.
Why should your networks and members get behind <IR>?
At A4S, we are committed to transforming financial decision making techniques to enable an integrated approach to become the norm. Reporting is a key part of this. Unsurprisingly, many members of our CFO Leadership Network are already adopting <IR>.
The Crown Estate, for example, has developed a ‘Total Contribution’ approach to account for the value they create beyond financial returns. This integrated thinking, a prerequisite for successful <IR>, facilitates better decision making; builds stronger relationships with partners; increases collaboration and innovation; enhances business resilience; and ultimately increases competitive advantage.
As a recent IIRC report stated, there is growing evidence to suggest that organizations who adopt <IR> perform better than competitor organizations that do not. A number of our Network members have reported a positive impact on their bottom line since embedding integrated thinking within their organizations.
Our CFO Leadership Network’s research with the investor community also highlights the benefits of <IR> for effective engagement, in particular where the principles are applied across all investor communications, from roadshow presentations and update calls through to press releases and formal reports.
What campaign or approach has given you the best response? And what tip(s) would you give to other organizations?
We always find that case studies are the best way of getting organizations engaged. Bringing together the practical insights and examples from our CFO Leadership Network on integrated thinking with the IIRC’s case studies on reporting has been a powerful way to inspire organizations to get started. Having ‘end-to-end’ examples that bring to life practical approaches to integrate into decision making, from strategic planning and understanding risk, through to management reporting and investor relations, gives multiple starting points. For some, it is easier to commit to <IR>, and then work through the steps to integrate into internal decision making, for others, ‘getting the house in order’ internally, before reporting externally is more effective.
Ultimately, you can’t have <IR> without integrated thinking and decision making, and once you have internal integration, <IR> is a natural progression.