US Annual Reports on the Decline

US Annual Reports on the Decline

Noticeable decline in US company annual reports.

Paragraphs is proud to announce we have won two awards from ARC this year for both Baxter Healthcare Corporation and Exelon Corporation. A Gold was won for Baxter and Honors for Exelon. We’ve been involved with the ARC awards for almost 20 years and have always been thrilled to compete with organizations committed to conveying their story through the annual report.

After celebrating, we took the time to review the awardees from other categories. When doing so, it was hard not to acknowledge a noticeable decline in participation from American companies. This posed a question among the team, and Paragraphs’ President (Robin Zvonek) took some time to reflect on this discovery:

Is the USA falling behind?

A clear trend has evolved in the annual report awards arena and especially in the ARC competition. Over the last few years, sadly, US companies are barely squeaking out wins. I looked over the results for 2012 and about 85% of all wins across every industry were a foreign held corporations — China, Hong Kong, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, SRI Lanka, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Bahrain, Luxembourg and more. China and Hong Kong had the most wins collectively.

The foreign held corporations still believe their annual report is a strong investor communications tool. They have in-depth stories, more charts, more information, more photos, inviting infographics, full financials, tone, and personality. When an investor looks at these annual reports they clearly understand the company and where it is headed. They can easily decide whether the company is worth their continued interest.

The US versions have become watered down versions of what an annual report should be for their readers. How much can we cram into a 10K wrap? What do we really need to tell our investors? Are they really reading it? How many pages can we cut?  How can we save? Can’t we just put it online? Facebook, really?

A costly trend

I get it. It’s a tough economy. Everyone wants to be perceived as being cost efficient and effective.  But every company needs to ask itself what has this trend cost us? Do all of our constituencies really understand who we are, what we do, where we are going and why they should trust our company to deliver real results, year after year?

The quality of messaging, vision, strategic thinking and execution is lost in a 10K wrap. It is barely decipherable on the web.  Scrolling, clicking, zooming to read…what happened to the good, old fashioned format — holding an annual report in your hands, looking a full-size pictures that convey emotion, excitement and intelligence, feeling the quality of the paper, being able to jot notes in the margins of the financials?

So sad, in an Olympic year, the US has come in dead last and it’s because we weren’t even trying.

Robin Zvonek


312.828.0200 |

Leave a Reply

Close Menu