Swedish companies need to show they can tackle the future on their websites
By Timmy Fredriksson
The websites of the 110 largest companies in Sweden have just been ranked on how well they meet the demands of the capital market and jobseekers. Governance is the Swedish companies' strongest suit whilst supplying overall company information is an element that requires some attention.
When comparing the results of the 20 largest companies across 13 of the ranked countries, Sweden places at number three with an average score of 58.8 (out of 100). Painting a slightly different picture is the average for all ranked Swedish companies, including these 20 largest: 47 points. Even though this represents a decrease in the average score from last year's figure of 50.1, the websites of Swedish companies are generally high-performing. Stakeholder needs have increased since last year, making the ranking tougher overall. Yet in spite of these heightened requirements, Swedish homepages and the overall functionality of their websites are better than their European counterparts.
Governing better than most of Europe
For many years, corporate governance has been a strength for Swedish companies - it is an area where the level of detail supplied is usually amongst the best in Europe. This holds true again in the 2019-2020 ranking, as the average score for providing governance information has consolidated. With the average score for most of the other website sections decreasing, governance has risen in the ranks in part by default. To drill down into the details, Swedish companies rank amongst the best in Europe at presenting AGM information, remuneration details for the Board of Directors and Management (including general presentations of the members), and for providing governance reports.
Sweden's insiders are unknown
Where Swedish companies should look to increase their transparency is by including more information about their insiders. Only 32% of the Swedish companies present their insiders' recent transactions, whereas only 16% provide a list of their insiders at all. For balance, the numbers for their European counterparts when assessed against the same criteria are at just 19% and 10% respectively. This shouldn't, however, be a reason to postpone increasing transparency on this matter any longer.
One Swedish company to follow when it comes to governance is personal & household goods company Husqvarna. They present a well-laid out section with nearly everything stakeholders require.
Company information is treading water
General company information, often called the "About us" section, is a part of corporate websites that both investors and jobseekers visit to gain a broad introduction to that company. In fact, it's the most visited section amongst jobseekers when assessing a potential employer. Although clearly a very important part of the website, the average fulfilment (average score divided by max score) for Swedish corporate websites' general company information has decreased since last year. The fulfilment has fluctuated over the years, but is now at 42%, the same level as 5 years ago.
Companies need to show they're ready for the future
Keeping the "About us" section of the website up to par with what stakeholders want is important, especially in times like these when there is talk about a recession. This part of the website provides a perfect opportunity for a company to show that they're ready to take on the future, primarily by presenting two pieces of content which have increased in demand for the capital market:
- Business models:
The capital market's demand for clearly-stated business models is something that has increased in recent years. The business model shows that the foundation of the business is steady. Nearly half of the Swedish companies satisfy this need, as 49% of them currently present a business model. From further investigating this 49%, it's clear that the companies in the Swedish list with smaller market caps are better at providing fully-developed business models.
- Research & Development (R&D)/Innovation:
The need for information about R&D is of increasing interest for the capital market, and it's not just information about previous projects that is required. Presenting ongoing projects shows that a company is working to further evolve and adapt. Whilst 32% of Swedish companies present their past R&D projects, only 15% divulge what they're working on right now. Digging deeper into this number reveals that the companies in the Swedish list with larger market caps are better at providing information about R&D/innovation.
Personal & household goods company Swedish Match's work with their company information is the best-in-class in Sweden this year. With a near-perfect score, there is clear information on several key aspects of the section, including their business model and R&D projects.
The Swedish winners and biggest climber
The podium of this year's Swedish Webranking list has seen some changes: whilst the names are familiar, the placings are different. Finishing in third place last year, Swedish Match keeps climbing and is now number one with a score of 83.4 points. Skanska again holds down second place, narrowly behind Swedish Match with a score of 82.1. Last year's winner, Cloetta, is now in third place with a score of 77.4 points. The climber of the year is Essity, who have done a fantastic job with updating the content on their website and managed to increase their score by an astonishing 20.7 points to climb from 46th to 4th place.
|Rank||Company||Score (out of 100)|
See the full Swedish results