Why financial report assurance belongs to accountants and non-financial (ESG) report assurance belongs to a collaborative team

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Why financial report assurance belongs to accountants and non-financial (ESG) report assurance belongs to a collaborative team

The realm of corporate reporting is undergoing a dynamic shift. While financial statements remain the bedrock of business transparency, the rise of non-financial metrics like environmental impact and social responsibility demands a nuanced approach. This begs the question: Who is best equipped to assure the accuracy and credibility of these diverse reports?

Financial fortress: accountants hold the key

When it comes to financial statements, the landscape is clear. Accountants possess the specialised knowledge and rigorous methodology to navigate the complexities of financial data. Their analytical prowess and adherence to professional standards make them the gatekeepers of reliable financial reporting.

Accountants are trained to scrutinise every transaction, dissect balance sheets and unravel the intricacies of financial models. Their expertise lies in ensuring the numbers add up, revealing discrepancies and ensuring compliance with established accounting principles.

The accountant's role is to approach financial data with objectivity and scepticism. They are trained to identify potential biases, uncover fraud and present a fair and accurate picture of the company's financial health.

With their specialised skillset and professional integrity, accountants foster trust in the financial reporting process. A company’s stakeholders – from investors to creditors to regulators – rely on accountants’ assurance to make informed decisions about that company's financial standing.

Beyond the numbers: a team approach for non-financial metrics

While accountants excel in the domain of financial data, non-financial reporting demands a broader perspective. Evaluating environmental impact, social responsibility initiatives and governance practices requires expertise beyond pure numbers. This is where a collaborative team shines.

Experts in environment, sustainability, diversity and governance understand each domain's metrics and frameworks. They can assess the quality and completeness of data, ensuring reports accurately reflect the company's performance in these areas.

Legal professionals can ensure reports comply with relevant rules and avoid potential liabilities when non-financial reporting intersects with legal and regulatory frameworks.

And, while not the sole arbiters of non-financial data, accountants still play a crucial role. Their analytical skills can be applied to assess the internal controls and data systems used to generate non-financial metrics, helping to verify their accuracy and reliability.

By leveraging the strengths of each discipline, businesses can create a robust and trustworthy non-financial reporting ecosystem. Accountants lend their financial expertise, content specialists ensure domain-specific accuracy, and legal professionals safeguard compliance. This collaborative approach fosters holistic and credible reporting, ultimately benefiting stakeholders and the company itself.

Collaboration: the winning approach

In conclusion, focusing on the core competencies of different professions allows for a more effective and efficient approach to corporate reporting. Accountants remain the pillars of financial assurance, while non-financial reporting thrives through a collaborative team effort. By recognising and maximising the value of each discipline, businesses can navigate the evolving landscape of corporate transparency with confidence and credibility.

Speeki has launched its ESG report assurance services to help companies tell their story about ESG and non-financial data in a structured and authentic way. We combine our experience in ESG content with our communications, audit, certification, legal and compliance backgrounds to provide the blend of resources required to produce a great non-financial report. Contact Speeki to learn more.

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