UK online reporting 2010 at the crossroads.

The trend towards HTML reporting is still strong within UK’s FTSE-100 companies.

Since the UK Companies Act paved the way the share of companies choosing this form of presentation had increased significantly from 37% in 2007 to now a dominant 67% in 2010. With this level the United Kingdom clearly stands out on an international level.

Development of format offered within FTSE-100:

  • PDF – a PDF file of the report can be downloaded [2010: 24%]
  • JPG show – is a 1 to 1 copy of the printed report pages are converted into JPG/images offering a flip through this image gallery [2010: 9%]
  • Hybrid HTML – parts of the report are converted into HTML, others (eg Notes) are included just as PDF download [2010: 24%]
  • HTML – the full content is converted into HTML [2010: 43%]This strong develepoment in favour of HTML reporting also introduced a new trend in the UK that we call hybrid HTML. It combines an HTML converted narrative section with PDF files of the Financial Statements and/or Notes. Nowhere else in the markets we are covering with our research (505 companies in 12 countries) these hybrid reports became that strong! It seems as if pressure via peer group research, best practice guidelines and rankings created a new genre of wannabe HTML reports.But in fact this approach is neither fish nor fowl. It clearly misses the point of reporting and instead draws the users attention at nicely tuned integration of flash and multimedia. It looks like a way how agencies can sell their multimedia stuff and still cope with small budgets.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using flash and video within online reports but don’t that your audience is still looking for your hard stuff, too! Multimedia should add to usability and not swaped for information! Our aggregated statistics shows that the Financial Statements are always one of the top 5 hits wihtin all online reports. Not surprising for me, as it is all about reporting.And what clearly makes me shudder most is that well observed rankings fail to address this matter:

UK IR Society http://www.ir-soc.org.uk/index.asp?pageid=88
Winner: Tullow Oil, Notes just PDF!

Smiths Ratings http://www.living-group.com/smithsratings.html
Winner: Logica, Notes just PDF!

Strategic Planning Society http://www.sps.org.uk
Winner: TUI Travel, Notes just PDF!

Radley Yeldar http://ry.com/about_us/services/hdisu2010
No. 3: Land Securities, Notes just PDF!

Something Is Rotten in the State of UK reporting.
What do you think?

Comments.

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  1. I think the move towards PDFs is not only budgetary but also and eagerness to have as short a time as possible between release of figures and the online report going live. Whilst no a fan of having important information only accessible via a plugin (even though PDFs are widely available to all users) I see no problem with the PDF route BUT, and it’s a big but, we have to ensure that we do what we can to make that information accessible. The majority of the examples above make the effort in making links meaningful and not reliant on images etc, but I’m shocked at the Tullowoil example, having the same text and title text for each PDF? Surely a large FAIL for WCAG standards? There’s no excuse for that kind of coding. The site for Land Securities on the other hand is an good example of a vendor understanding what it’s all about.

  2. Hi Stewart, thanks for your comment! I agree that time is an issue, but can be tackled by a good process management as we both know 😉

    Keep up all your good work and send my greetings to London Borough Market!
    Thomas

  3. Hi Thomas

    you are of course quite right about process management – a challenge for all of us.

    I shall indeed pass on your greetings by buying some excellent lunch.

    Stewart