AR on AR 2022

AR on AR 2022Summary  |  RatingsTop 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.

Screenshot from Akzo Nobel's Annual Report 2021 CEO statement

Akzo Nobel's (the Netherlands) CEO statement is substantial and well-written. Available both in text and video.

Other good examples are Cap Gemini (France), Santander (Spain) and 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 Telia Company's Annual Report 2021 - 2021 in review

Telia Company (Sweden) presents both financial and non-financial key figures for the past year in their Annual Report 2021.

 

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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 SSAB Annual Report 2021 - strategyScreenshot from SSAB Annual Report 2021 - strategic targets

SSAB (Sweden) shows an excellent use of a simple visual used to describe the company’s overall business strategy, along with strategic targets and achievements.

 

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 from United Utilities' Annual Report 2022 showing their business model

Excellent presentation of United Utilities' (UK)  business model with a visual and text that explains the whole value creation process and how they operate including what differentiates them and their target market. It's also available in an online version.  

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 Evonik Industries' Annual Report 2021 showing financial targets

German chemicals company Evonik Industries present and explain their financial targets along with the performance in 2021. 

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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 Randstad's Annual Report showing risks

Randstad (the Netherlands) elaborate on their risks, risk management and connect them very well to both strategy and opportunities. 

Screenshot from 3i's Annual Report showing risks

 3i's (United Kingdom) presentation of risks is clear and visual with a comment on outcome. 

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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 Heineken's Annual Report 2021 showing sustainability targets

Heineken (the Netherlands) present their commitments and progress in an excellent way - making it easy to get an overview of what and when.

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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 Pandox' Annual Report 2021

Pandox' (Sweden) are making use of imagery from their hotels in an excellent way in their 2021 Annual Report. The rest of the report is also well-designed and pleasant to read. It's also user-friendly with a lefthand navigation in the PDF.

Screenshot from DNB's Annual Report 2021

DNB's (Norway) Annual Report 2021 is nicely designed with great illustrations throughout the report. It also has good bookmarks and clear indication of the current chapter. 

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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. 

31% of the 490 companies provided some kind of online report—everything from a short summary to a full online annual report complete with financial statements.

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)

 

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)

 

Although it's not a full online annual report, BMW's (German) online version making use of the digital format in a great way to show key figures for example. For some reason, the management report is not completely digital as the strategy for example is presented in pdf. Apart from that—and the very long intro video—this is a great online report.

 

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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

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