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08 November 2006

Accounting firms want company accounts revamp-paper

The world's top accounting firms will club together on Wednesday to call for an overhaul of how companies report performance, proposing real-time results rather than quarterly earning statements, the Financial Times said.

The heads of the 'Big Four' accounting giants and two other firms would say the financial reporting model of the last century has become redundant, the newspaper said.

They would instead propose that static quarterly financial statements be replaced by real-time, Internet-based reporting, including a wider range of performance measures.

'We believe the current model is broken,' KPMG International Chairman Mike Rake was quoted in the FT as saying.

'There are significant shortcomings to U.S. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and issues of concern with international financial reporting standards. We're not in a very happy situation,' he said.

Rake and his five counterparts, including the heads of Grant Thornton and BDO, were due to unveil a joint paper in Paris on Wednesday, the newspaper said.

Corporate reporting had largely been unaffected by the advent of the Internet and digitisation -- two developments that have drastically altered the way companies operate, the FT said.

'Current systems of reporting and auditing company information will need to change -- towards the public release of more non-financial information customised to the user, and accessed far more frequently than is currently done,' the joint paper said.

The discrepancy between the 'book' and 'market' values of many listed firms was evidence that the content of traditional financial statements was of limited use, the accounting firms said.

The FT said the proposed changes would result in the most significant shake-up of the data flows that feed markets since the introduction of accounting standards and independent auditing by the United States in the 1930s.

The six accounting leaders had been working on the proposals for more than a year, the FT said.

© Reuters

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