Telling a cohesive story

The running order of a FTSE 100 Annual Report is not dictated by any specific compliance requirements, leaving companies free to develop their own as they see fit. Consequently, they vary considerably, but there are particular arrangements that are very clearly favoured.

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Many would argue that the most logical running order would place marketplace information first, as the effectiveness of a business model is difficult to judge without some knowledge of a company’s external circumstances, while strategy makes little sense if not presented in the context of the core business model. Succeeding the strategy section, the KPIs would then be used to measure performance against strategic objectives.

Having gained a broad understanding of the business, how it functions and its recent performance, the reader is now in a position to appreciate the risks it faces. Following on, CSR can be considered outside of this logical flow of information, or integrated throughout.

While this running order becomes evident after browsing a selection of recent FTSE 100 reports, no single running order is preferred to such a degree that it can be identified as the most frequent without some kind of statistical analysis. As a result, we carried out research to identify which running order is statistically the most frequent among the most recent FTSE 100 reports in order to allow more informed best practice recommendations on this element of reporting to be made to our clients.

By taking the averages of the relative position ranks calculated for each of the six sections, it can be seen that the “standard” running order of FTSE 100 reports is as follows:

This analysis confirms that the most frequent running order is indeed that predicted on the basis of which would make the greatest logical sense from a storytelling perspective.

The results of this research by no means prove that this running order is optimal or in any way the absolute “best”, and indeed there is a great deal of variability even among the relatively small number of reports considered. However, the results do show that there is a favoured running order among FTSE 100 reports, and given that it is also easy to argue that this order is the most logical from the point of view of delivering a sound overall outline of a company, there is a strong argument for taking it as best practice.

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