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Annual Reports – Best Practices and Best in Class

With the end of last month came the deadline for annual reports, so we have analyzed a sample of reports from leading companies in Mexico and around the world to identify our favorite reports and best practices.

 

BEST PRACTICES

First let’s take a look at the best practices for producing an annual report. 

  1. Set out your company’s vision, goals and achievements.
  2. Provide the key data and events that took place during the year.
  3. In addition to the financial statements, include the key points in the body of the report with explanations. 
  4. Use tables, graphs and images to help to explain your point and make the report attractive and easy to read. 
  5. Include ESG initiatives and achievements, including details on senior management, committees and the Board of Directors. Even if you produce a separate sustainability report you should still refer to ESG in your annual report. 
  6. Give a clear, concise and coherent message. Don’t produce a long report for the sake of it. 
  7. Narrate a story to make your company memorable. One way to do this is to pick a theme for the report and ensure that you keep referring back to it. 
  8. Use multimedia, and make sure the digital version looks really good. Few people will read the print version (these days optional).

 

BEST IN CLASS

Of our sample, top marks went to Adidas, AngloAmerican, Clorox, Hilton and Shell, which all offered both a digital/interactive report as well as a pdf download option. 

Adidas not only caught our attention due to its great branding and design, but also as a result of the various tools the report offers to make life easier for the reader. It has filters so you can easily navigate to any section that relates to ‘digital’ or ‘strategy’ for example; they include side notes with links to help you to learn more about the company; they include a chart generator so that reader can produce their own customized graphs comparing the metrics that they wish to see; and in addition to the report, the excel tables are also available for download to aid further analysis. They also use the report as a way to build their data by introducing a pop-up box asking whether the reader is an analyst, investor, customer etc.  

AngloAmerican’s format was simple and effective, but what made it really stand out were the messages from the CEO, Chairman and the employees all in video format. We thought this was a great touch, especially given the lack of face time that companies were able to have with the market in 2020. 

We liked Clorox for its innovative design with many references to the pandemic and front line and essential workers. They have three shortcuts to the CEO Message, a scorecard that includes sales, performance, and social impact metrics, and details on their IGNITE Strategy.

Hilton has an interactive landing page that provides key highlights and summarizes the whole report in just four slides and presents the CEO message in a 5-minute video. Hilton focuses on the theme ‘resilience’ throughout the report, enabling it to tell a story and give a coherent message. This helps the report to feel more inspiring, giving the expectation of a better future both for the chain and its industry.

Shell, like Adidas, had a chart tool and the option to download both the pdf and excel tables. The report home page also had links to the latest sustainability and tax contribution reports. 

 

SOME METRICS

Of our sample:

  • 55% were integrated reports with ESG. Those companies which did not produce an integrated report on the whole had a separate sustainability report. 
  • We were surprised to see that only 39% of our sample provided a digital/interactive version of the report, as well as the standard pdf. We found the digital/interactive versions far more engaging than the pdf, and in some cases the excel tables, were also available for download, giving the best of both worlds. 
  • On average, we found that the split between the use of text and that of graphs, tables, images and other graphics was almost equal, making the reports engaging and easy to read and take in the information. 
  • The average page length of our sample was 189 pages. 

 

Looking forward to next year, if you require any assistance in terms of the content or the design of your annual report then Miranda IR and Miranda Digital and Design would be happy to help. We have worked on a number of annual reports recently and can help you become the Adidas of Mexico.

Contacts at Miranda Partners

Damian Fraser
Miranda Partners
damian.fraser@miranda-partners.com

Ana Maria Ybarra Corcuera
Miranda-IR
ana.ybarra@miranda-ir.com

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