Investors let down by online reports

One in three FTSE 100 companies is failing to take advantage of the opportunities the internet offers to communicate with shareholders, reduce costs and improve environmental credentials, a survey has found.

The companies that make the greatest impact online help investors to find the information they need fast and in formats they can download for their own use.

But 34 of the 100 largest listed companies provide only a static pdf (portable document format) file of the annual report or images of it which can be slow to download and difficult to search.

Jonathan Hynes of the Smiths Partnership, the business communications consultancy that carries out the survey annually, said while the number making better use of the internet had risen, there was a hard core still ignoring it.

“Some say the return would not justify the cost, others that they don’t have the time or worry about having to have the information audited again and a few that there is no demand from the institutional investors.”

“The latter excuse is the last refuge of a scoundrel – these are very important organisations for millions of people in the UK and they should be providing this information in the most accessible forms.”

Smiths evaluates online reports on 21 criteria, some of which reflect Investor Relations Society best practice. Top of the league table is Royal Dutch Shell.

Mr Hynes said the cost of a highly-rated online report might be an extra £20,000. “FTSE 100 companies typically spend a quarter of a million pounds on producing their reports. I don’t think money is the issue.”

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