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The Annual Report on Annual Reports

the top performers

The top of the ranking list consists of well-known names in AR on AR, thanks to their solid and well-thought-out reports.

The top 3

SCA

An excellently structured annual report, where information is presented extremely well. A good mix of everything, from graphs and figures to strategy and sustainability. 

Screenshot of SCA's annual report

AkzoNobel

Going the extra mile in making the content interesting. Overall good design and attractive presentation that works well, both as an online report and a PDF.

Screenshot of AkzoNobel's annual report

SKF

An effective design and clear way of answering why one should invest in SKF. Last year, their report was ranked as an A, but has improved to an A+.

See the complete ranking list

Screenshot from SKF's annual report

Learning from the best

So, what can we learn from the companies at the top of the list? Here are three components that matter:

Content

Most of the top performers are strong in presenting their business and operations, as well as sustainability data. The operations report is thorough and the sustainability section is supported by data.

AkzoNobel, SKF, Atlas Copco, Epiroc, and Deutsche Bahn took the lead among the top performers. Their corporate governance information is transparent, and they also clearly explain why one should invest in them. SCA, Volvo, ICA Gruppen, Electrolux, and Sasol are also good examples here.

Presentation

Yes, of course appearances matter. Using design and layout elements to help the reader both understand and navigate the report will make it easier to get your message through.

Graphs, maps, illustration, tables, and charts are helpful tools that help explain complex material and highlight what is most important, but, as always, need to be used with care. As you can see from our panel's favourites, SCA and AkzoNobel are two stellar examples of presentation

Format

Closely related to presentation but slightly more technical.

The vast majority of annual reports are still presented as PDFs, but we have seen a slight shift towards online reports, as well as PDFs that are adapted to be read on the screen. Examples of these are Stora Enso's report in a landscape format, which includes good links to pages and sections, and SSAB.

The simple feature of including useful bookmarks and links in the PDF should be standard, but after reading close to 1,000 annual reports we are sad to say that that is not the case.

Among the top 20, AkzoNobel had the most comprehensive online report, with all the necessary content, video files, and financial statements. ICA Gruppen's and Novozymes' online reports are closer to a summary, and Electrolux included everything online except the financial statements online.

More best practice examples will be shared later.

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