Joint effort needed to tackle disclosure.

Author:Heffes, Ellen M.

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) released in January highlights of a survey conducted on financial information disclosures ahead of its public discussion forum on the subject. Respondents to the survey identified various factors that contribute to the disclosure problem.

Of the 225 responses from across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, about 50 percent came from preparers and approximately 20 percent from users of financial statements.

Among the survey highlights:

* More than 80 percent of respondents agreed that improvements could be made to the way financial information is disclosed. Half of those felt that such improvements were required across all parts of the annual report and not just the financial statements;

* Most preparers of financial statements identified the primary problem as disclosure requirements being too extensive with not enough being done to exclude immaterial information, which has been referred to as "disclosure overload;"

* Many users of financial statements felt that preparers could do more to improve the communication of relevant information within the financial statements, rather than leaving users to sift through large amounts of data; and,

* A range of views on the underlying causes of the problem was identified. Some respondents felt that more could be clone to improve the way...

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