How does it stack up? A yearly review of FTSE 100 annual reports, is now widely recognised for its comparative analysis, impartiality and forthright approach to the challenges we all face. We’re proud of its reputation as a practical tool that promotes best practice and gives all companies - not just RY clients - access to some of the thinking that can establish or keep them at the forefront of reporting.
It would be good to write that the last few years have seen a steady increase in reporting standards, as comms and IR teams lead their companies into the sunlit uplands of integrated reporting. Or, at the very least, move them towards more balanced, coherent and transparent reporting. Sadly, with a number of notable exceptions, that isn’t the case.
It’s true that the strategic report has taken its rightful place at the heart of reporting. And it’s clear that areas such as governance and remuneration are benefiting from some long overdue transparency. It’s also a fact that integrated reporting has good momentum and is leading to more balanced performance narratives that identify and quantify business impacts beyond financial return.
But while some companies have wholeheartedly embraced the spirit of high quality, transparent reporting - and several of them are featured in this document - others are continuing to hide behind woolly thinking, incoherent messaging and all-round obfuscation. Why? is the obvious question and that’s something we aim to answer, firstly in this document but also in the interactive reporting hub we’ve launched on our website.
The job of an annual report is to present the investment case with clarity and conviction, and showcase the past 12 months in the context of markets and strategy. It should inspire all stakeholders, from employees and community organisations to the media and customers, to respect and trust the company. This is of course
a tall order - but it’s something that is very much within the remit of an annual report, which has almost unrivalled potential to transform perceptions and lay the groundwork for a company’s future success.
That so many reporters are still not stepping up to the mark is disappointing. We hope that this report not only highlights some of the key issues and how they can best be addressed, but is also the start of a conversation that will continue through the reporting hub on our website. All interested parties - clients, other design agencies, suppliers and the media - are welcome to contribute. The more the better. Because although this is an RY document with an RY perspective, the challenge extends far beyond our teams and those of our clients.
This is a part of a series of articles we are posting as part of the How Does It Stack Up? 2016 Report. To learn more about best practice corporate reporting, visit the How Does It Stack Up? page.