Financial content needs improvement for French companies to catch European peers
By Anna Dunder
In this year’s Webranking, the corporate websites of 900 of the largest global companies were evaluated for how they meet the needs of capital market professionals and jobseekers. Of the 72 French companies included in the ranking, only 11 fulfilled more than 50% of the desired criteria. The average score for French companies was 38.5 points (out of 100), representing a 3-point reduction from last year's level. The biggest challenge is delivering better financial content, particularly in terms of reporting and shareholder information.
France's largest 72 companies have been outperformed by their European peers, whose average score is seven points higher in this year's Webranking results. One of the biggest challenges French companies face is presenting visitors with the most important content in the formats they require.
Usable PDFs and digital reports are lacking
This year’s Webranking results highlight that digital reporting is still awaiting its breakthrough in France. On a general level, reporting is actually a strength for French corporate websites, with 85% of companies archiving several years of financial presentations and reports. However, only 17% of the ranked French companies offer a digital summary of their annual report whilst none have an interactive or adapted annual report this year. The latter option may be a quick improvement to benefit the on-screen readability of reports across different devices.
Browsable annual reports are not a good alternative
This year, some companies offered a browsable online version of the annual report, with pages that turn when clicked in a "flipbook" style. This format is however a poor alternative to a fully digital or PDF report: it does not support accessibility and zooming in on the content is rarely smooth, particularly when using a mobile device. Navigation within the report is also problematic, with the find function often the only solution. An interactive PDF report with good bookmarks is far better to use, as relevant content can be more easily found.
ArcelorMittal are a good example of a company that provide several bookmarks in both a PDF and an online annual report.
Shareholder information relies on share graphs
Shareholder content is another challenge for French companies, with general information seldom supported by supplementary detail. A prime example of this involves dividends: whilst 74% of the companies provide their dividend history, only 46% also communicate their policy. Furthermore, although 82% of French companies present share graphs, the functionalities on these graphs are often limited. Analyst information is another problem area, as only 6% of companies offer contact details for those following the company, compared to 20% last year. Although more than half supply analysts' names, the usability of this information is low as stakeholders can’t contact them.
Information about remuneration is missing
Another improvement area for French companies to focus on is governance, where they are far behind the rest of Europe. Whilst 44% of all European companies included in Webranking 2019-2020 provided information about remuneration, only 11% of the French companies published this information on their websites. 84% of the respondents to our Capital Market survey 2019 expressed that remuneration figures were either important or very important, and so this shouldn't be neglected. One of the few French companies who provide this is Vinci.
Vinci is this year’s French winner; Bureau Veritas is the Climber
This year’s top three companies in France follows last year's order, as Vinci takes the highest podium for the fourth year in a row with an impressive 76.5/100 points. Second place goes to Total with 61.5 points, whilst Airbus are in third with 57.2. Additionally, Vinci placed third out of all ranked companies in the Construction & Materials supersector list. This year’s Climber of the Year award for the French list is won by Bureau Veritas, who improved by more than 12 points from last year.
Top ten in France
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See the full French results