Gregg Anderson has three decades of professional experience collaborating with clients in improving their performance and reducing compliance costs through the use of technology, redesigning processes and effective risk management. Using this experience, today Gregg helps clients in the design and implementation of sustainable risk management programs that align with their overall strategy, improve performance and optimize compliance. Areas of Specialization Include: Program and Project Management, Enterprise Risk Management, Sustainability Reporting, Compliance Program Development, Internal Audit, and Corporate Governance.
Christopher P. Skroupa: I understand your practice at Crowe is helping companies have confidence in their reporting and disclosure of information to various stakeholders. What types of things do you do?
Gregg Anderson: We help our clients assess, manage, monitor, report and leverage information for decision making. Historically, Crowe has provided an opinion on the reasonableness of a company’s financial statements. Today we focus a lot on providing advice on the company’s controls over financial and regulatory reporting by assessing and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the controls. Our experience tells us that there are frequently opportunities to improve the accuracy, timeliness and relevance of information for decision making. We are now working with SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) to apply this experience to Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Reporting.
Skroupa: How have both your practice and the process of integrated reporting evolved over the years?
Anderson: The complexity and amount of information has exploded over the last thirty years. Organizations now have moved on from the questions of “are my financial statements reasonable?” to “Do my people, systems, and processes produce information that can be used for decision making?” This includes employees, bankers, rating agencies, customers, regulators, investors and the public at-large. We are also seeing a shift from companies focused on “Feel Good” reporting to using disclosure to drive change within the organization. It’s like disclosing your fitness goals in order to motivate you to achieve those goals.
Skroupa: We’re continuing to see Sustainability and Responsibility reporting standards mature. What does this mean for reporting companies as well as investors?
Anderson: In the same way that financial reporting standards have matured, these new standards help companies describe their method of reporting allowing investors to compare one company’s report with another company’s report. Even though one company may use one standard and another company uses another standard, we can figure out how to translate between the two. I’ve heard some organizations say that they will adopt disclosures when there is an official standard defined. However, history tells us that a single standard never is really achieved whether it be language, units of measure, or even college entrance exam test scores. Once we have the ability to translate between multiple standards, we can move on and make the decisions that we need to make. It’s important that companies realize that investors are just beginning to figure out how best to use this information and that standards will change as reporting matures. Companies should be thoughtful in making investments in reporting that are truly relevant and actionable to their stakeholders.
Skroupa: With the future uncertain, what should companies and investors be doing now?
Anderson: Get moving. Start simple. I often use the analogy that building a sustainable reporting program is like building a great restaurant. Keep the menu simple at first and work on the processes and capabilities to deliver a choice of meals for a specific group of customers. Make sure that your customers are satisfied with the meals. Once you can deliver consistency on a repeatable basis, go ahead and expand the menu in order to meet the tastes of additional customers. Also recognize that tastes change over time and cannot be dictated by a standards setting board. I see successful companies really being thoughtful about what is material information to aid in decision making and investing. Today with the wealth of data available, it is easy to bombard your stakeholders with information that not only is not helpful, but obscures some of the information that is meaningful and actionable.
I’m excited about where sustainability and responsibility reporting will take us in the future. In this age where reputations take decades to build but can be destroyed with one scandal, having trust and confidence in the information that is disclosed will be critical. Hopefully, firms like Crowe can play a role.
On October 8th, 2015, Skytop Strategies presents, “Integrated Reporting Roundtable – Series IV: Using Integrated Reporting for Improved Shareholder Engagements,” hosted at Edelman’s New York office. Continue the discussion with Gregg Anderson and 60 institutional shareholders and company executives at this full day interactive roundtable engagement. To inquire about attending, contact Jon Scorcia, Vice President of Delegate Engagements, at email@example.com.