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A clearer picture: enhanced business reporting: better info means better decisions.

Adept organizations use historical information and real-time indicators that are predictive in nature to manage their day-to-day operations and make strategic decisions. And technology has provided access to more timely, accurate and relevant information in a cost-efficient manner.

Enhanced business reporting meets the need for better, more structured guidance on reporting financial information.

LEADING THE EFFORT

The Enhanced Business Reporting Consortium is working to improve the quality of information in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. Members will collaborate to develop a voluntary, global disclosure framework designed to be the "gold standard" in business reporting.

In addition, the AICPA Special Committee on Enhanced Business Reporting established the Public Company EBR Task Force and the Private Company EBR Task Force to research and develop examples of how enhanced business reports may appear.

Sample reports by both task forces, available at www.ebr360.org/ContentPage.aspx?ContentPageId=8, show potential approaches to enhanced business reporting and demonstrate the benefits for stakeholders.

The reports also provide sample disclosures for a number of industries, as well as how to apply XBRL and other business reporting technologies.

Key issues identified in the public company sample reports include utilizing the web to deliver information; allowing users to clickthrough for more report details; providing a range of estimates rather than a single number in reporting earnings projections; and leveraging XBRL to help users identify the financial information most relevant to them.

Key features of the private company.

The survey is available at http://websurveyor.net/wsb.dll/20058/enhancedbusinessreporting1.htm.

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A MATTER OF SCALE

The Public Company Task Force also is studying ways to simplify existing reporting requirements within the context of enhanced business reporting.

The AICPA Private Company EBR Task Force, chaired by Harold Monk, CPA, CFE, managing partner of Florida-based Davis Monk and Co., is working on a similar effort, but with a view to ensuring enhanced business reporting guidelines are scalable for privately held businesses.

Thomas D. Foard, CPA, CFM, CMA, VP/CFO of Publishers Circulation Fulfillment, Inc. in Maryland, also serves on the AICPA Private Company EBR Task Force. He sees the primary difference in public versus private company shareholders being that public shareholders tend to focus more on reported earnings, whereas privately held shareholders focus on cash flow.

Aside from this primary difference, private companies have basically the same stakeholders as public companies, including bankers, credit agencies, vendors, employees, etc., who deserve the same level of transparency.

"We need to provide the framework and tools for the privately held companies to communicate the company's business model, strategic direction, underlying business drivers and key performance indicators, and management's assessment of risks and opportunities," Foard says.

"The challenge will be scalability, as privately held companies can sometimes be much larger than some of their public company counterparts, but are usually much smaller with limited financial management resources, which may be challenged in the ability to prepare enhanced business reporting reports."

As enhanced business reporting makes business reporting more transparent, it will strengthen the economy and protect investors and other stakeholders.

BY CAROLINE C. BOUDREAUX, CPA

Caroline C. Boudreaux, CPA, CSPM is a partner of Boudreaux, Henderson & Co. in New Iberia, La., and a member of the AICPA Private Company Enhanced Business Reporting Task Force. You can reach her at caroline@boudreauxhenderson.com.
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Title Annotation:BUSINESSREPORTING
Author:Boudreaux, Caroline C.
Publication:California CPA
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:654
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