PracticeConsultingFTSE-100 Web Reviews – The good, the bad and the ugly.

FTSE-100 Web Reviews - The good, the bad and the ugly.

A company's website is now the first port of call for shareholders

Accountancy Age’s sister-magazine Financial Director this month published the results of an in-depth review of the websites of the FTSE-100 companies.

Here we look at the top five sites, pick on some of the under-achievers and detail what makes a good site.

The survey concentrated on the investor relations aspects of the sites, not whether they were geared up for e-business applications.

However, these days the two, from a corporate perspective, are inextricably linked – if a company is prepared to do e-business on the web, then it should be able to give investors adequate information and vice versa.

THE FIVE BEST SITES

www.britishtelecom.co.uk

BT has produced an excellent site, packed with information for all levels of investor. The viewer is no more than three clicks away from interims, quarterly results, press releases and important corporate announcements.

There are no real possibilities for cybersquatting, as it is possible to reach the site through a number of different URLs such as bt.com. The investor relations area includes slide presentations and scripts used by BT executives for analyst presentations and press conferences. The BT site combines corporate information with e-commerce in a very simple fashion.

Investor Relations section: Yes

Annual report: Yes

Interims: Yes

Share price: Yes

E-commerce: Yes

www.logica.co.uk

The investor relations site for Logica won an award from Investor Relations Magazine last year and it is easy to see why. It is a model site with superb downloads and up-to-date information. It brings together a whole range of useful information, including an analysis of share trading every 15 minutes. The site is fantastically quick with no long delays while information is downloaded. There are no opportunities for e-business but this does not detract from the site.

Investor Relations section: Yes

Annual report: Yes

Interims: Yes

Share price: Yes

E-commerce: No

www.bat.co.uk

The Financial Director survey found the British American Tobacco site to be fast, simple and informative, particularly when tackling sensitive issues. First impressions suggest that it is a PR exercise justifying smoking, but there is considerably more depth and analysis available throughout the site and as much information as any investor would require. The news feed is informative on all issues relating to tobacco around the world, so it is possible to track the state of the global market. The site is explicit about not offering any e-commerce facilities, and overall sought to address what is a contentious issue in a mature fashion.

Investor Relations section: Yes

Annual report: Yes

Interims: Yes

Share price: Yes

E-commerce: No

www.reuters.com

As you would expect from the leading provider of financial information, the Reuters site has excellent, comprehensive downloads and historical information. The investor relations section took a couple of seconds to find (it’s at the bottom, on the left) but that apart there is a wealth of corporate literature available such as the monthly newsletter. The site very cleverly combines corporate information with current news stories and e-commerce opportunities, though the medium is of course perfectly suited to the services Reuters provides.

Investor Relations section: Yes

Annual report: Yes

Interims: Yes

Share price: Yes

E-commerce: Yes

www.j-sainsbury.co.uk

This is the corporate homepage from where you can link into the different areas of the Sainsbury’s empire, such as the banking and supermarket sites.

The FD survey found an ‘excellent investor relations site packed with historical info and nice elements’. The site scored well on simplicity and ease of navigation, and like the other sites listed above was remarkably quick to surf through.

The interims information was not immediately obvious, but the short search for it revealed some other useful sources of information. The site itself is not geared up for e-commerce but all the shops and banks are only one click away.

Investor Relations section: Yes

Annual report: Yes

Interims: Yes

Share price: Yes

E-commerce: Yes/links

NOT-SO-GOOD SITES

Sadly, not all FTSE 100 companies in the Financial Director survey came up to scratch, with many showing marked deficiencies in the way they communicated with their shareholding audience. This is what the survey said about some of the worst offenders:

www.bookham.co.uk

Bookham Technology – terrible for a tech company – hard to navigate, little info.

www.cadburyschweppes.com

No link from main consumer site; not enough browsable info.

www.capitagroup.co.uk

Very light on detail and not geared to investors. Poor.

www.cmg.co.uk

Poorly designed site from an IT company; financials sloppy.

www.electrocomponents.com

Very poor – badly structured, hard to navigate, crude.

www.compass-group.com

Huge file sizes for downloads; seems slapdash.

www.lloydstsb.co.uk

Poor – little history, low level of detail.

www.schroders.com

Poor – looks clean, but slow and lacks data.

www.scottishandsouthernenergy.co.uk

Appalling: very little info, badly out of date.

www.vodafone-airtouch-plc.com

Surprisingly poor; hard to navigate.

ESSENTIALS FOR INVESTOR RELATIONS SITES

According to Financial Director, all investor relations sites should include:

– Excel spreadsheets of all financial data

– Presentations made to analysts

– As much historical data as is available

– Any data that might affect corporate performance – commodity prices or sector analysis, for example

– Press releases

– A comprehensive list of contacts

The website should also:

– Be easy to find

– Be kept simple

– Avoid glitzy designs

– Consider the audience

– Be updated often

– Be no more than three clicks away

– Offer as many formats as possible

www.financialdirector.co.uk.

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