There has been a rapid expansion in online communications including a significant rise in investors receiving their investor relations and shareholder information electronically. Many companies are neglecting to make use of online annual reports and are missing out on major opportunities.
Companies that use online annual reports have an advantage over companies that only use print based annuals. By providing shareholders with online disclosure information they are bridging more disclosure gaps than ever before. They are able to provide more information faster and more effectively allowing access to shareholders and potential investors.
How can companies best utilize the online annual report?
It is important that companies that choose to utilize online annual reports ensure that they are a quality report that represent the holistic brand of the company. Companies need to strategically design their online annual reports so that their message is clear to the end user. An online annual cannot just be text thrown up on a webpage. The site needs to be well designed, SEO friendly, easy to navigate, up to date with features that investors are looking for and of course follow disclosure policies.
The beauty of the web is that it offers features that a printed annual report doesn’t have the ability to offer. Take for example embedding various types of multimedia into your online annual. Some companies choose to feature videos of their CEO’s message to shareholders or a video of mining efforts in the field. Another popular item is audio clips of meetings. These items all increase the users annual report experience.
Download centers have become a common element seen in online annual reports. They allow investors to download full annual reports financial statements, financial reviews, and estimates, essentially anything in which the company wants to provide investors with access to. Download centers are generally quick links making it easy for users to find
A feature that is growing in popularity among online annual reports is the “build your own report” feature. The build your own report section of online annual reports is an extremely handy feature for investors. Annual reports are often lengthy and contain a wide variety of information. Different sections of annual reports are important to different shareholders and potential investors. With this feature there is no need for them to download or print the entire annual report and this allows them the flexibility to personalize their exact needs.
With the typical build your own report feature users scroll through the annual report in pdf format and control which pages or sections they want to print or add to their download by adding it to a basket (similar to online shopping). Once a basket is full users can compile as a pdf and save, print or e-mail. Take for example Tim, an extremely busy businessman that holds stocks in dozens of companies. He doesn’t have time to read through every single annual report to find the specific information he is looking for. With the “build your own feature” in online annual reports Tim can quickly compile reports with the exact information he wants and needs with the quick click of a mouse.
Online annual reports are the future of compliance communications. In order for companies to broaden their shareholder base and familiarize potential investors with services and/or products that their company offers they must use every disclosure resource available to them. With this shift to the online world in the corporate compliance industry it is essential that companies strive to create the best report possible and stand out among others.