HSBC's 453 Page Annual Report: How To Reduce The Regulatory Footprint?

letter%20carrier.jpgFinancial Times has a two-sentence briefing story on its front page of today which ID's a chainsaw killer that happens to fit the description of many other such culprits. (In other words we don't mean to single out only one company by this example.) Per the story:- "HSBC's annual report has ballooned to such an unwieldy size that the Royal Mail - the UK postal service - has had to limit the number its postmen carry in order to prevent back injuries, the bank said." Said to weigh 1.47 Kg, the massive report is attributable to new and extensive corporate reporting regulations. Whoa..are social and environmental performance reporting requirements part of the problem? We don't know and since no such report is available...no please don't send one!...we are left to speculation. Might be many factors in combination. But the solution is clearly at hand for every publicly held firm, in the form of the Adobe Acrobat Reader and digital "watermarked" portable document format (pdf). For you non-computer savy accountants and corporate investor relations departments here's how it works. You print a nice executive summary to mail out. Pretty graphics: fine. Recipients are referred to an on-line digital version. Embedded into the online summary report narrative are these things called hypertext "links" that "jump" the reader to the appendix tables or graphics being referenced and then back to the summary. And, if the reader were more comfortable with a full hard copy he/she could request one be mailed while online. Perhaps the regulations don't allow for the hard copy-digital hybrid, in which case we think it might be fine then to lobby to fix the system. Image credit: San Diego Union Tribute (by sign up only).

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