The continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant an increased focus on areas of corporate reporting that are immediately obvious, such as the performance narrative and the financial position discussion. However, better examples of broader reporting incorporating the pandemic have emerged and there are less examples where Covid is dominating the narrative above all other areas, but it is now more embedded and balanced throughout the annual report.
We have outlined here some key themes and recommendations that will assist those responsible for drafting the annual report.
- A strategically focused base to the annual report narrative will provide a clear template to address all matters. This will provide a framework for the explanation of significant issues, outline throughout how the business addresses areas of strategic focus and ensure stakeholders have an insight to the driving governance behind operational activities.
- Making connections will create a cohesive report that provides clear linkage on matters that are important to stakeholders and ensure a greater level of insight. This is particularly important with an area like principal risk assessment to ensure this addresses strategic aims and is specific in nature to the business.
- Being clear on the timeline and scale of activity will create a dynamic picture of progress and enable a broader understanding of the business. This is particularly important for forward looking information to make it more tangible to the stakeholder and not a baseless aim or suggestion with no conviction.
Each year a sample of portfolio companies are reviewed for compliance with the Guidelines, and over the last fourteen years there has been a sizable shift in the underlying quality and transparency of reporting. All the Guideline areas require careful consideration to ensure good practice can be achieved and this guide provides both an understanding of what good practice looks like and some actual examples from the most recent review. The examples set out elements of good practice for the specific criteria disclosed. The Group will review the disclosures in the annual report when reviewing compliance.