Australia's chief financial officers (CFOs) are pressing for shorter corporate annual reports, and they want them distributed over the internet instead of posted.
The call to government and regulators was articulated in Sydney on Wednesday at Australia's biggest annual gathering of CFOs, the Group of 100 Congress (G100).
Annual reports tend to focus on corporate governance and statutory requirements including the financial statements and are couched in technical and legal language, G100 national president Tom Honan told delegates.
The G100 strongly supports proposals to permit companies to put the annual report on the website rather than sending a hard copy to shareholders.
Mr Honan wants the annual report to become a compliance document that would communicate to shareholders in a simpler, more informative and interesting presentation.
Mr Honan also decried the increasing volume of concise annual reports, particularly the inclusion of the remuneration report in the director's report.
The Australian Shareholders Association backed the G100's position, but only under the condition that annual reports are made available by mail at the request of shareholders.
There are still parts of Australia that are not serviced by good quality, fast broadband and we have to think about people who live in remote areas, ASA chairman Steven Matthews said.
He said the growing size of concise annual reports was a problem.
We've focused for too long on an over legalistic approach to these things, he said.
Perpetual chief executive officer, David Deverall, who also spoke at the conference on Wednesday, said he thought few shareholders actually read annual reports.
They are rather dreadful documents, annual reports, Mr Deverall said.
Very few shareholders actually read them, so that's why at Perpetual we've tried to make a shareholder friendly reporting environment, so we've got a very thin, shareholder friendly report and a rather condensed financial report at the back.
Meanwhile, on the subject of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting, Mr Honan called for a flexible rather than a prescriptive approach.
In a competitive environment, the way companies choose to report and differentiate themselves will encourage improved reporting - an approach unlikely to occur under a mandatory regime with its one size fits all approach,
Mr Honan is currently CFO of share registry operator Computershare.