FTSE 100 research project

As part of our ongoing marketplace research, our ‘think’ team have taken an in-depth look at the annual reporting of the FTSE 100 in 2014/15.

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The purposes of the project were to ensure that, as a company, we stay abreast of current reporting trends, that we take on board the latest ideas and methods for structuring and articulating an effective story, and that we’re aware of how our own work stands up against the market.

So, with our new Three Cs consultancy framework in place, we assessed the compliance, content and cohesion of the printed and digital output of the 100 largest companies listed in the UK. More broadly, we sought to answer a number of questions.

Do the biggest companies use their resources to produce the strongest reporting? Are there trends within certain industries and, if so, which perform the best? What can be done to make the longest reports also the most engaging? What digital reporting methods are prevalent, and how can digital functionality be used to enhance traditional content?

Stay tuned for some more detailed findings in the future but here are some initial headlines from the research:

Compliance: Against the various listing requirements, including the Compliance Act, the Listing Rules, the Corporate Governance Code and FRC guidance, we found only a single report that did not meet the criteria. The company failed to include any mention of KPIs in their report, making it difficult for the audience to understand the key measures used by the company in assessing their own performance.

Content: Looking at the content subsections (business models, market reviews, articulation of strategy, coverage of performance, risk management, sustainability reporting, governance and remuneration), we believed that just over half featured well-executed content. Amongst many criteria, we judged the level of detail present, the quality of the information in terms of both copy and design, and how accessible and engaging the section was as a whole.

Cohesion: Finally, we looked at the cohesion of the overall document, assessing whether the individual content sections fit into a single, logical story, told consistently from cover to cover. In order to achieve top marks, this story had to feature strong information and a clear tone of voice, simple navigation, intuitive signposting connecting relevant sections, and be complemented by a design that captures the brand in an engaging and meaningful way. In these aspects, we found that less than half of the FTSE 100 achieved a well-executed report.

The project has proved an immensely valuable experience for Jones and Palmer and our clients, with many thought-provoking ideas and practices already taken onboard and many more to take into the 2016 reporting season.