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How to Step Up Your Financial Disclosure Game

In order for IROs to keep their shareholders happy, they need to ditch their old reporting methods in lieu of more engaging presentations.

 

For far too long, investors have been consigned to spending their “Earnings Season” bogged down with reams of reporting papers, parsing through tiny lines of text and bland graphs. For ages, earnings press releases have clung to the same tired format: a list of relevant highlights, a few caged pull quotes from upper management about the company’s performance, followed by the full form financial statements.

 

Investors with irons in multiple fires, so to speak, are inundated with these reports. When faced with the same type of document again and again, the information is bound to run together, making it difficult to keep track of which shares performed up to expectation and which were disappointments. For IROs, turning over a forgettable, disappointing report to a shareholder is anything but an ideal outcome — so they should begin to formulate a strategy to separate their reports from the rest of the pack.

 

Visual Reporting

One method IROs can employ to spice up their presentation is incorporating visual reporting techniques in their releases. While some form of graphical data analysis already appears in the prototypical earnings report, the level of detail and methods of conveyance have developed rapidly in the last few years with new design software, technologies, and means of delivery. We’re not talking about some sort of glorified Excel graph — this level of design and analytical breakdown requires data mastery and technical skill.

 

In a piece for IR Magazine, consultancy firm Edelman Financial Communications & Capital Markets conducted a study of institutional investors, sell-side analysts, retail investors, and members of the financial media to discover how they use and digest earnings data in order to determine how new visual approaches are being received by these key stakeholders. The study groups were shown examples of the old style of reporting, filled with static information and lifeless graphs, followed by more modernized reports with fully visualized data and analytics.

 

Overwhelmingly, the survey showed that respondents prefer the visualized reports. A full 92% of those surveyed agreed that the more visual reporting style will become the standard form in the future and will include qualitative content and creative storytelling. What’s more, 84% of respondents found the reports easy to read, and 80% found them more trustworthy and transparent. Clearly, the investment audience is ready for a reporting upgrade.

Delivering Through Technology

 

But simply creating a new type of report isn’t going to be a cure-all for the issues plaguing current financial disclosure practices — a new means of delivering these reports is equally necessary. In today’s tech-driven world, IROs must embrace the prevalence of mobile platforms or fall by the wayside. Corporate websites, where PR earnings reports can be easily posted for downloading and viewing, must be optimized for mobile use.

 

Even better, an IR mobile app can send earnings reports directly to shareholders on their mobile devices. There’s no chance here for paper documents to get lost in the shuffle, and the platform is designed specifically for optimal display of electronic documents. With comprehensive reports delivered proactively through a mobile app, IROs can set themselves apart from the competition and ensure that their investors feel valued and engaged.

(Image credit: negativespace.co/flickr)