On November 17th and 18th 2016 over 250 delegates from Business and Academia attended in Rome the Integrated Thinking and Reporting in Practice Conference. Delegates from a large variety of Countries included a diverse group of leaders from business organizations, investment companies, rating agencies, professions and academia.
Organized by LUISS University, The University of Roehampton and Mercurio GP in collaboration with CIMA and UN-SDSN, the Conference offered the opportunity to build and further develop conversations on a number of fundamentals themes and issues related to the effective implementation of Integrated Reporting.
The first day of the event featured institutional speeches by the IIRC, IRC South Africa, CIMA and the UN-SDSN, as well as contributions to panel and round tables by the London Stock Exchange (Borsa Italiana) and rating agencies such as Fitch. A significant number of leading adopters and newcomer organizations presented their approach to Integrated Thinking and Reporting in Practice. Presenters ranged from a variety of Industries: from Banking (with ABN Amro, Fideuram – Banca Intesa, DBS, and Barclays SA) to Industrial/Services (Siemens, Interserve, Leonardo-Finmeccanica, Ansaldo STS, Italian Railways); from Insurance (Generali, Aegon, Delta Lloyd, Liberty) to Energy (Terna, Snam, Gold Fields, Sasol); and, finally, from the Public Sector (The Crowne Estate, University of Edinburgh, Italian Football Association – FIGC, Italian Olimpic Committee – CONI) to SMEs (Monnalisa, Despar, Estra).
The conference featured the distribution of the Annual Report Times, an ad hoc publication that summarises stories from leading adopters on their pathways to value creation and impacts of their Integrated Reporting journey. The publication highlights the challenges and opportunities featuring the journey embraced, as well as the key role of accountants, finance professionals, and members of the sustainability units within the process of Integrated Thinking and Reporting.
From the rich and vibrant conversations developed during Conference it has clearly emerged how Integrated Reporting goes well beyond its well-known representational abilities. The innovativeness of Integrated Reporting is not exclusively related to the contents it conveys (the integration between financial and pre-financial measures; the multiple capitals; the focus on the business models, on the connectivity of information, etc.). Rather, building on a series of distinctive features, Integrated Reporting becomes valuable especially because of the engagement it generates inside and outside organizations. Integrated Reporting offers a visual space for interaction that helps business managers to define, understand, perceive, and connect to organizational challenges with the intention of being able to be in tune and, eventually, anticipate uncertain and volatile market environments. It also offers robust methods and procedures for ordering complexity to scrutinize processes of value creation and make decision-makers exercise judgment, given that in a complex world such as the one we are living in data are often unconnected and not necessary complete. In doing so, it became clear how Integrated Reporting also builds on the inherent trade-offs that financial and pre-financial data generate, and then offers a pragmatic opportunity to fruitfully mediate the tensions among different functions and stakeholders in place (for additional insights on Leading in uncertain times by rethinking the design of management accounting and reporting systems see our latest CIMA report).
The second day of the event featured mixed panels between academics and professionals, as well as a number of academic parallel sessions were academic papers and research project were presented and discussed. The IIRC offered its view through the speech by Philippe Peuch-Lestrade and Neil Stevenson, who also introduced the aims and scope of the <IR> Academic Network and its Support Group.