Mark Hynes - thoughts on corporate disclosure

Opinions on changing rules, changing best practices, and their effect on investor relations officers.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Borrowing some great ideas

It’s that time of year again. Across the land, IR, company secretarial and corp comms teams are gathering their thoughts about the direction their annual reports should take. What will the class of 2011 annual reports look like? So I was interested to see what “How does it stack up” from Radley Yeldar (see disclosures) had to say.

This is against a background of changing regulation. Reporting is one of the most consulted-on areas of IR work. 8 – no less- consultations in the last 18 months have asked what users and preparers of annual reports would like to see. What levels of disclosures? How to balance detail against readability? Should online start gradually to take more of the strain, and lessening content be mandated in the fixed format report?

Meanwhile of course, audiences continue to change. As recently reported, the average holding period for stocks has shrunk from 5 years to 5 months, a huge migration of investors needing support in understanding the equity story.

So looking at how others are approaching this issue is helpful. Among those reports which are worth a look for narrative reporting are Capita, BAE, Anglo American and Marks and Spencer. From the online perspective, Centrica, Barclays and Tullow Oil were recognised.

Meanwhile the sustainability report awards went to Centrica, Vodafone and Kingfisher. With sustainability becoming a key filter in stock picking for mainstream funds, telling the sustainability story is now key.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So borrowing ideas from these top reports makes sense.


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