For the first time in more than 10 years, companies are doing a worse job of using their annual reports to get across business performance.
Top of the list of problems is the spate of corporate financial scandals, which compelled companies to include huge volumes of data in their reports.
However, according to a survey of top European companies, the difficulties do not end there. ‘Lacking innovation, poorly structured and at times woefully designed, the majority of this year’s reports give the impression of being simultaneously under-resourced and undervalued,’ said survey author Matthew Grenier.
Company chairmen, in particular, were criticised. While some were willing to acknowledge the difficulties faced by the company, many blamed the government. However, Munich Re, the German insurer, Swisscom and oil giant BP were cited as producing ‘memorable’ annual reports.
Peter Prowse, editor of the Annual Report Report, said: ‘Annual reports from European companies need to reflect some of the lessons learned from across the Atlantic, and become documents that interest and excite, rather than slowly bore to death with tables and inscrutable figures.’