The most important Annual Report you will ever produce

Luminous launched its Life After Lockdown webinars series on 6 May with a webinar on ‘The most important Annual Report you will ever produce’ looking at the challenges and opportunities currently facing preparers and providing practical advice on how to create a compelling and valuable Report in these uncertain times.

An expert panel of speakers joined Stephen Butler and Harriet Rumball of the Luminous Investor Engagement strategy team and a selection of key take-aways from each of the panellists’ presentations is as follows:

Laura Hayter, CEO of The Investor Relations Society emphasised that ESG is very much at the heart of the agenda for this year’s Annual Reports, with the crisis highlighting how interconnected companies are with their stakeholders.  The Society has duly included a Best Communication of ESG award in its annual corporate reporting awards this year and Laura anticipates that the social aspect of ESG will come into even greater focus as we emerge from this crisis.

Phil Fitz-Gerald, Director of the Financial Reporting Lab, highlighted the importance of addressing employee engagement in this year’s corporate reporting.  The FRC Lab report on employee relations published in January this year highlights that investors are looking for insights into the use of the workforce as a strategic asset within the business model and are calling for more basic data on workforce composition, with increasing calls for quantitative information.

Graham Jerome-Bell, Director of Global Branding at FTSE 100 Informa plc, provided insights from a company perspective, highlighting the approach Informa has taken to the new Section 172 Statement requirement.  Where some companies may have sought simply to meet this requirement from a compliance perspective, Informa actively embraced the opportunity it represents, developing an entirely new section in its Annual report entitled The Heart of Informa, centring around its purpose, culture, values and Section 172 Statement.

Adding to these insights, Harriet Rumball emphasised the value of the Annual Report as a key shareholder and wider stakeholder communications tool, setting out four steps to consider in order to simplify compiling an Annual Report at a point when the impact of COVID-19 may make this a more challenging process than usual this year. They are:

  1. Undertaking a detailed audit of the last Annual Report to identify new content requirements following changes in regulation including the new Corporate Governance Code and Miscellaneous Reporting regulations;
  2. Leveraging best practice by reviewing approaches other companies have taken and developing key messages to put the impact of COVID-19 into an appropriate context;
  3. Defining new content and the right structure to build a strong corporate narrative; and
  4. Leveraging audited and approved content from the Annual Report online to reach a wider investor audience more effectively.

We were delighted by how positively the webinar was received and you can access a recording and the slide pack by clicking the links. 

If you would like to discuss any of the content with us here at Luminous, please get in touch.