Many US companies are eschewing glossy paper and colour photos, choosing instead to print out sober, unadorned messages.
The average budget for annual reports dropped from $209,600 (£125,300) in 1999 to $184,700 in 2002, according to the US’s National Investor Relations Institute. Some believe the new modesty is a response to the spate of corporate malfeasance.
Others say it may be because so much information is already available over the internet, and companies need not spend as much to get their message to shareholders.
Dealing with the annual report can be a tricky issue. Companies are under pressure to produce as much information as possible for their investors, yet there remains disagreement over how best to present, and what information to include, in an annual report.
In the UK, accountancy firms that audit publicly quoted companies came under pressure from the government at the end of last year to begin publishing their own annual reports.
Those firms that convert to LLP status are obliged to go public with their results, but the government is keen to see firms take voluntary action to make public their results.
Last year’s winner of the Accountancy Age best annual report award was Geest, which the judges commended for ‘answering key questions in a simple way’.
To enter your annual report into the Accountancy Age Awards go to www.accountancyage.com/awards.
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