NEW YORK – The world's top accounting firms joined together Wednesday to call for an overhaul of the way companies report performance, proposing real-time results rather than traditional quarterly earning statements.
The heads of the "Big Four" accounting firms — Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG as well as the next two largest firms, Grant Thornton and BDO Seidman, said the standard financial reporting model used in the last century is growing less relevant and meaningful.
Instead, the firms proposed static quarterly financial statements be replaced by real-time, Internet-based reporting, including a wider range of performance measures.
"The same forces that are reshaping economies at all levels are driving the need to transform what kind of information various stakeholders want from companies, in what form, and at what frequency," the joint paper said.
"The new model should be driven by the wants of investors and other users of company information, and the information produced should be forward-looking, even though it may be historical in fact."
The six accounting leaders said the discrepancy between the "book" and "market" values of many listed firms showed that current financial reporting had become outdated. They said there was a need to better account for companies' "intangible" assets, which make up the bulk of the value for many firms.
The six accounting leaders also suggested accounting rule makers continue along a path of international convergence for accounting standards and launch a similar convergence process for auditing standard setters and regulators.