Building on our recent findings on reporting in the FTSE 100 and AIM markets, we explored both FTSE 250 and SmallCap listed companies to discover what makes them award-winning. In our first article we take a deeper look into the major themes in the FTSE 250.
Doing rather than saying
The first theme that appeared is the importance of an Annual Report backing up the statements it makes by showing evidence of how the company has put theory into action.
The Berendsen Annual Report, winner of Best Annual Report at the ICSA awards, is a prime example of this and was praised by judges for ‘doing rather than just saying’, regarding the diversity and governance sections. The commitment of Berendsen to gender diversity was demonstrated through the inclusion of information about the mentoring programme. Rather than only disclosing responsibilities, the activities and the achievements of the board and audit committee took up several pages.
Judges commented on the Annual Report of Pennon Group plc, winner of the ICSA awards for Best Sustainability Disclosure, as being ‘particularly strong in talking about delivery rather than aspiration’. Throughout the sustainability section of the report, the achievements of the Group in terms of environmental, economic and social impact are clearly discussed.
Award categories across the board also emphasised the need for reports to link between different sections.
The Go-Ahead Group report won the ‘Best Overall Communication of Company Investment Proposition’ award at the IRS Best Practice awards. Throughout the Chairman’s Statement, the Group Chief Executive’s Review and the business model section of the Go-Ahead report, there are numerous signposting phrases with page numbers, which link to later sections of the report such as risk, corporate governance, strategy objectives and stakeholder relations.
The Intermediate Capital Group plc Annual Report won Best Audit and Risk Disclosure at the ICSA awards. The risk management section is signposted to throughout the report, with the associated principles risks listed under each strategy objective and under each point in the ‘How We Create Value’ section.
Past, present and future
Both the Excellence in Reporting category at the PwC awards and the Best Annual Report category in the IRS Best Practice Winners awards included whether the report covered past, present and future in the criteria used by the judges. The Provident Financial and Croda Annual Report won these awards respectively.
In the KPI section of the Croda Annual Report, there is a good balance between past, present and future. For each KPI, there is a comment on whether the KPI is on track and a discussion of why this is the case, as well as data on how each KPI has performed over the past few years and targets for the KPI in the future. Additionally, the risk section includes discussion of how risk has been mitigated in the past year as well as the impact the risk could have on the business in the future.
In the Governance section of the Provident Financial report, past and future is covered in the commentary on the board evaluation. A list of actions taken over the course of 2014 in response to the 2013 evaluation and then actions proposed for 2015 based on this year’s board evaluation are also included.
In our next article we take a look at the key themes that appeared in award winning reports in the Small Cap reports. Until then, for more tailored advice about how to bring your company’s Annual Report up to award winning quality, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.