AR on AR 2021

AR on AR 2021Summary  |  Ratings  |  Top picks  | Best practices

Best practices

While reading and evaluating hundreds of annual reports, we often find great examples that we want to share with you. We have listed some of these below, but there are of course many more. When the information is presented in an online version, we have provided a link.

CEO letter

The CEO statement/letter – or letter from the chairman – is the essence of the annual report. It should highlight the strategy and what is important to the company, putting last year’s events and performance into context.

L’Oréal (France) provide a video with the leaving and the new CEO who give their view of the past year and how L’Oréal is set for the future. If we could, we would have given extra score for also providing subtitles and captions to the video. Available also in text.

Other good examples are AIA Group (Hong Kong), EQT (Sweden), Symrise (Germany) and Rio Tinto (UK).

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The year in brief

A summary of the past year gives a good overview and gives the reader an indication of what to expect from the report. It can also serve as a summary to go back to after reading the full report. This part should include:

  • A summary of events from the past year.
  • A selection of key figures showing how the past year went. Should include both financial and non-financial (i.e. environment, social data), share information and comparison with previous year.
  • Charts.
Screenshot from AB InBev's Annual Report 2020

Nicely presented key figures in AB InBev's (Belgium) annual report 2020 – easy to read and get an overview.

 

Screenshot from UPM's Annual Report 2020

UPM (Finland) manage to fit key figures, more or less presented as their business model, together with main events in 2020 in one page.

 

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Strategy

The strategy should convey where the company is heading and how it plans to get there. After the financial statements, it is the most important information in the annual report according to Comprend's Capital Market survey 2021. The strategy should cover:

  • Strategy
  • Strategic objectives
  • Strategic focus areas/priorities

Screenshot from Glencore's Annual Report 2020 showing their strategy

Glencore (UK) present their business model strategy, priorities together with the outcome for last year in a very good way.

 

Screenshot from Randstad's Annual Report 2020

Randstad’s (Netherlands) strategy is described in detail and complemented with a strategic roadmap including progress per each for 2020.

 

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Business model

The business model should explain how the company creates value for all stakeholders and with what means the company will reach their overall goals. A good business model covers:

  • How the company creates value for different stakeholders including customers
  • Their target market
  • What differentiates them from competitors

Screenshot of BASF's business model in their 2020 Online Annual Report

BASF (Germany) integrates their business model in "How We Create Value" in their online annual report , making use of the online format in a great with with the possibility to expand sections and link to more information.

 

A screenshot from Kone's annual report 2020 showing their business model

Well described and nicely illustrated business model in Kone's Annual Report 2020.

 

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Operations

It’s all about understanding the company and its’ performance to full grasp the potential of the company. The growth drivers and macroeconomic aspects are also important to understand as well as competition. We are looking at:

  • Review of operations
  • Growth drivers
  • Competition

Screenshot from Atlas Copco's Annual Report 2020 showing their business areas

Atlas Copco (Sweden) first present their business areas in brief and then more extensively with market development, financials (graphs and tables), market drivers, competition, products  for each area. Very well presented.

 

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Financial targets and data

The financial targets indicates what the company thinks is achievable. Together with past target achievement helps the assessment of future target achievement. This part should include: 

  • Financial targets expressed in numbers
  • How to achieve them
  • Past achievements, at least previous year
  • Outlook/guidance

Screenshot from DSV Panalpina's annual report 2020

DSV Panalpina (Denmark) present their outlook and long-term financial targets in a clear way.

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Risks and risk management

A full understanding of what current or future risks the company is facing and how each is or will be handled is important when evaluating the company. The risk section should cover:

  • A description of the company's approach to risk and risk management
  • Different types of risks, e.g. financial, operational, strategic, environmental
  • Activities taken to minimise risks
  • Probability of risks
  • Map/matrix or table to simplify

Screenshot from Rio Tinto's annual report 2020

The risk matrix does not only plot the different risks into a scheme, but it also has very clear definitions like “unlikely” and “almost certain”. (Rio Tinto, UK).

 

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Sustainability

Wide and vague discussions on companies’ responsibilities are not enough. The sustainability strategy and approach need to be complemented by targets and target achievements for environmental and social areas such as emissions, waste statistics, health and safety and diversity. By offering hard facts and results, the company also fulfils the market's expectations on corporate transparency. Examples of information that we are evaluating: 

  • Clearly stated targets
  • Past achievements of the targets
  • Data
  • Activities to reach the targets
Screenshot from ARjo's annual report 2020

Arjo (Sweden) present both their past and upcoming sustainability goals along with key activities and data.

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Style

Neither the visual aspect nor the user-friendliness of the annual report should not be neglected, regardless if it is a PDF or online version. This criterion is more subjective than the others, so we have aimed at not only evaluating if the report is good looking or not, but also if the structure makes the report easy to use, if the PDF uses bookmarks or other navigation tools. 77% of the respondents of our Capital Market survey prefer to read annual and sustainability reports on a screen so it is essential to take this into consideration when designing reports. We look for:

  • Appealing visual design
  • User-friendly structure and navigation
  • Easy to read
  • Use of illustrations and tables
Screenshot from Howden Joinery's annual report 2020

The business of Howden Joinery (UK) is nicely illustrated throughout the report, giving it a unique look and feel.

 

Screenshot from VAT's annual report 2020

A modern feel to VAT’s annual report – stands out in the crowd and is still easy to read. (VAT, UK)

 

Screenshot from Novo Nordisk's annual report 2020

Novo Nordisk’s annual report is easy to read. Clean look and feel, lifted up by carefully designed illustrations and selected key figures. Well designed to be read on screen with a link to the table of contents on all pages. (NovoNordisk, Denmark)

 

Screenshot from EQT's annual report 2020

EQT’s interactive version of the report, still in PDF, is easy to use with the help of a navigation that is available on all pages. (EQT, Sweden)

 

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Online report

The online format makes the annual report available for more stakeholders as it easily can be linked to and shared. The content of the report can be found via Google increasing the audience to not only the usual suspects such as analysts and investors but also to potential customers, employees and media. It increases the possibilities of engaging the users by using interactive features. 

32% of the 519 companies provided an online report, or at least an online summary. When evaluating this criterion we look for:

  • Online summary
  • Financial statements in html
  • Easy to use
  • Interactive features – for example strategy presentation, video and chart generators.

Screenshot from Adidas' online annual report 2020

Adidas’ online annual report is once again a good source for inspiration. In addition to financial statements in html, they also provide a chart generator. (Adidas, Germany)

 

Screenshot from Peab's online annual report 2020

Easy to use with a navigation and the possibility to read the report page by page, using arrows that are available in the middle of the screen, even when scrolling. (Peab, Sweden)

 

Screenshot from RusAgro's online annual report 2020

Nicely designed, with short highlight pages to important areas. (RusAgro, Russia)

 

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Are you looking to improve your annual report next year? We can help you. Check out our ReportWatch reports.

Helena Wennergren

Helena Wennergren

Head of Research

helena.wennergren@comprend.com

+46 70 971 12 10

James Handslip

James Handslip

Managing Director (UK)

james.handslip@comprend.com

+44 (0)20 8609 4908