Today is the reporting deadline for 4Q20 in Mexico, so we are now turning our focus to annual reports, which will be a priority for companies in the upcoming weeks. An annual report is much more than a summary of the year’s results. It aims to deliver a bold statement about your company and its purpose as a brand. It’s a chance to leave something a little more permanent behind and to communicate your message to a wide reader base, including shareholders, debtholders, employees, clients, suppliers, the government, and other relevant stakeholders. Of course, in order to create an annual report that captures the reader’s attention, it must include the appropriate content, which is not easy when the audience and their knowledge is so broad. Here are Miranda’s top tips on how to produce the best annual report for your company.
- Cover page
Include a cover page with your company logo and try to make it as visually appealing as possible.
- Table of contents
Include a table of contents, highlighting the most important topics you will be discussing in the report. This will help the reader access the points they are most interested in reading.
- Vision, goals and achievements
Explain the vision, goals and achievements of the company in the year, especially in the letter from the CEO.
- Relevant data and events of the year
The annual report should tell a story of the main achievements and events of the completed year. It is recommended to use graphs and images to make it more visual.
- Financial Information
In addition to the audited financial statements, the most relevant financial results must be presented in the body of the report, followed by an explanation of such figures. Make sure to include the key numbers and use graphs and charts for visual representation. No one wants to read a document with plain text and long tables – always include images related to your company’s line of operation.
As sustainability and ESG content continues to be on the rise, 2021 will be a very important year for these types of disclosures and something investors will be focusing on when making investment decisions. As companies in Mexico begin to adopt more of these strategies, we recommend including all the initiatives and achievements made in the year regarding environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Include updated data on the management team, committees and board of directors. Be specific about any initiatives carried out, and if you aligned your content to any international standards, or received a rating for your ESG efforts, make sure to include them. If you don’t already produce a stand-alone Sustainability Report, consider producing an Integrated Annual Report with full ESG analysis. Our Miranda ESG team can advise you on which type of report would be best for your company and help you to produce either a stand-alone Sustainability Report or an Integrated Annual Report with ESG content.
- Clear Message for Investors, CEO Letter
The message sent to investors and analysts should always be clear, concise and consistent with the rest of the materials. If there is a particular accomplishment you wish to communicate, do so in a visual way and get straight to the point. Avoid complicated explanations and be totally transparent. But do not be overly technical, given that the Annual Report will be read by a generalist audience. Convince your CEO to write at least the first version of the letter that communicates what he thinks is important about the past year, and strategy for the future. (If Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffet and Larry Fink have time to do this, so do Mexican CEOs).
- Telling a story
The annual report should present the information through a common thread. The best way to do this is to choose a topic to focus on for the year ended as this will make it easier to digest what is in the report and lets you present your brand in the best possible light. People are more captivated by stories than by concepts.
- Humanize your brand
Humanize your brand to establish a connection, using photos featuring people at the company. Use high quality graphics to stand out from the crowd. Be involved, do not outsource the report in its entirety to a communication company otherwise it will read like another company’s report, but do seek help from external experts in terms of content and design. Avoid obvious mistakes (i.e. photos of only white men in a meeting; polluting factories). Make sure that the visuals are compatible with the theme (i.e. if you are communicating how asset light and technological your business is, do not show photos of old fashioned non-technological assets). At Miranda IR we can help with the content, editing, design and translation of the report.
- Web Page
Dedicate a tab on your website to the annual report or include a link to a web-based version of the report on your “Financial Reports” page. Make the report interactive so that it is easy for readers to get to the sections they are most interested in. Display the message from the CEO and with a photo of them next to their remarks. In addition, make sure there is a link to download the report in pdf format as some people prefer to read the full report this way, it allows term searches etc. Our Miranda Digital & Design team can help with the design and programming of a web-based report.
Please note: we recommend publishing your annual report before the General Shareholders’ Meeting, for which the deadline is April 30th, 2021.
Miranda IR works closely with Miranda ESG and Miranda Digital & Design and all divisions would be happy to help with the different aspects of producing a best-in-class annual report for your company.
Contacts at Miranda Partners