Regional differences in Online Corporate Reporting.

Portion of HTML Annual Reports in different countries.

In the next few days we will publish this years research on the state of online corporate reporting.  Beforehand I would like to use this Blog to highlight one of the most interesting findings of the work, that we did on searching through corporate reporting websistes of 508 big cap companies in North America and Europe:

Portion of HTML Annual Reports in different countries (by index in %)

For me this chart is the most astonishing result of our research! How is it possible in times of globalisation that the question “What is the most suitable way of online presentation for our Annual Reporting” may be answered in such a diverse ways? Whereas 67% of UK companies think HTML is the best way only 2,5% of french companies agree with this! And looking at the development it doesn’t look like this differences are about to narrow.

I would be very much interested in your ideas on this topic. Why do you think online corporate reporting shows such big regional differences, any suggestions?


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  1. Thanks for sharing this! Yes, these differences are huge. Perhaps differences in the level of retail share ownership could be one factor?

  2. @stefanpetter yes this might be one factore, though retail shareholders in Germany are totatlly different from UK. Probably there are lots of factors: somehow I think development of national suppliers play and important role. You need to teach the market. Also different country regulations, web usage, may be part of this. Has anyone other ideas?

  3. Thomas, that’s an interesting chart!

    I think it’s mostly a matter of peer group pressure (or the lack of). How often have we heard remarks like “we don’t want to be the last company not offering an html report” during the last years? So if 29 DAX companies provide an html report, the last one will start to think about it. But if half of them don’t, why bother? Who’s going to complain if they just offer a pdf-download?

    This leads us back to the question of who’s really interested in/using html reports. That’s an empirical question and – as far as I know – one that hasn’t gained much attention so far …

  4. Marco, I agree peer group pressure is an issue for the rest of the pack that stick to what they do since the arrival of the web to corporate communications.

    But IMHO, this can only explain a (smaller) part of the development. That way compabies would not start to think about changing their way of online reporting. I think there is more than peer group pressure in the thinking of good communciation managers. One big portion I think goes to “education”. And thats what we are doing with this article and with our everyday work. Companies need to know what the option as are and we are still not even close to a stage where we deal with IROs that know what the advantages of HTML reporting are.

    So keep up all the good work out there Marco and all our other competitors. We all will benefit from educating the market!

  5. Hi

    I note some mistakes in your benchmark in France CAC40 where i noted 8 company with a dedicated website for their AR. For example, ESSILOR is not only pdf (RA website : The link banner is on the homepage of the website ; another company with AR website : DANONE >
    So the %age are false and conclusion too.. there are more HTML/Flash report this year compared to last year..


  6. Hi Caliste!
    Thank you very much for checking this back. You are correct, there are companies that offer “something” interactive on their website. But this sometimes is more an image campaign type of thing than an Annual Report. E.g. the link to Danone you send leads to their “economic and social report”. This includes lots of pictures but only a one page summary of important key figures. No complete balance sheet is included nor any notes! To be fair with other companies we decided not to classify this but to refer to the reference document which is served just as PDF.

    The interactive Essilor link you send also offers just abstracts of the report in flash. The main teaser on the left tells you to download the full Annual Report as PDF.

    It sometimes is a thin line to walk and I am very happy you questioning this but we think it is important not to compare apples and oranges:

    An Annual Report for us has to include a full disclosure of financial statements at least!