Too long? Too boring? Read by nobody? A thankless task? Too many reports attract descriptions like these. But when done well, the annual report is the vital calling card of a listed company. It’s in the doing it well that many companies get stuck. How should a report be put together and what should it say? What are the secrets to producing what’s often the first port of call for investors, and increasingly, other stakeholders?
In the run-up to the 2021 reporting season, we’re hosting a series of monthly webinars with reporting expert Claire Bodanis, author of our latest book, Trust me I’m listed: Why the annual report matters and how to do it well. These sessions will help you broaden your understanding of just why the annual report is so important to business and society, and crucially, of how to do it well.
At lunchtime on the first Thursday of each month, Claire will discuss themes from the book – 'a masterclass in reporting', in the words of Dr Gerry Murphy, Chairman of Tate & Lyle and Burberry – with a different reporting stakeholder.
These recordings are available to view by everyone, all you need to do is log into your MyCG account and click the 'view this recording' button. If you do not have a MyCG account, all you need to do is register as a Free Subscriber and then click the button.
We kicked off with an interview from Claire and Sir Donald Brydon, author of the recently published independent review of the quality and effectiveness of audit, who has written the book’s foreword. He says: 'In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, it will matter even more that companies tell their story openly and honestly… It is a time for outstanding communication. Trust me, I’m listed will help all those about to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards.'
As you begin planning your annual report, Claire, Ben and Rachael will talk about how to prepare for 2021, including reflections on how to make the best of remote working for your teams. They’ll also touch on the challenges of managing the annual report for a dual listed company and a small cap company.
In light of COVID-19, annual reports are entering new territory. What are investors looking for? What does this mean for longer-term ESG and sustainability questions? Claire will discuss these and other key questions with Andy, who, as head of the Investor Forum, represents institutional investors’ interests to UK Boards.
How is the regulatory picture for reporting evolving? What can we expect from the FRC in the wake of COVID-19? What does that mean for 2021 reports and beyond? Claire will ask Miranda to reflect on these and other questions, drawing on her experience as a company secretary and her work on the Brydon Review, as well as her more recent experience at the FRC.
The annual report often becomes a battleground between storytelling and box-ticking – with the lawyers cast as the bad guys for spoiling the story. Keen advocates of storytelling, Will and Richard have a refreshingly different view. Claire will be exploring with them how to find the right balance, so crucial to a good report.
The role of audit and the relationship between auditors and companies is a hot topic, following the Brydon Review which proposed sweeping changes to the profession. How companies are approaching COVID-19 risk in their reporting and how auditors are responding will throw even more of a spotlight on that relationship. Claire will explore these issues with Maria and Paul, and hear the latest view on what’s likely to be a very fluid situation.
Board directors are responsible for the annual report – after all, they have to sign it off. But how involved really are they in their companies’ reports? How involved should they be? And how would better involvement improve both business management and, in turn, reporting? In exploring these questions, Claire and the panel aim to help reporters with what can be, depending on the Board, a challenge to manage.