Annual Reports – More Than Financials

Snap. It’s already that time when companies start reflecting on the past year: “What did we accomplish?  How did we advance? Where did we fall short? Ultimately, did we DELIVER?” No matter the answers, you now have the pleasure of letting your shareholders know. Time to chronicle the milestones of the last twelve months. Ah, the annual report. Some companies see it as a “wrap” to a 10-K, others can’t wait to let shareholders know why they should stick around. When designed well, an annual report is a perfect blend of logic and feeling.

Not until legislation was enacted after the stock market crash in 1929, did the annual report became a regular component of corporate financial reporting. Typically, an annual report will contain the following sections; Financial Highlights, Letter to the Shareholders, Graphics and Photos, Financial Statements, Notes to Financial Statements, Auditor’s Report, Summary Financial Data, Corporate Information, but ask yourself this: why do anything typical?

Annual reports have more than evolved throughout the years, they have transformed into a hybrid of the short story narrative and the spreadsheet.  An interwoven story of reality and ambitions. Shareholders are no longer in the dark about what their companies are up too, they virtually know your every move. With so much they already know, so much they have already analyzed, so much they have already researched, what could be possibly left for them to discover? How about your voice? Many shareholders invest in companies they have never met nor visited. Why don’t you invite them inside?

You have a captured audience ready to listen to what you have to say, about what has happened and what will happen next. Make it count. They are ready to carry your company forward on financial message boards, if you confidently communicate the company’s current state, desired state and dream state. No annual report design can promise financial returns but it can capture the imagination of shareholders to what is possible, while at the same time giving them the financial data to stand on. Shareholders will formulate their decision of “should I stay or should I go” based on two factors, part rational and part emotional, your annual must be grounded in both.

In the end, think of your annual report not as something you have to deliver, but as something you can’t wait to deliver. Make it memorable and watch your shareholders go from investors to believers to ambassadors that are the power of connecting logic with feeling.

When you’re ready to tell your tale…

Check out some of our award winning annual reports!

Paulo Simas
Paulo Simas

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