PwC embraces digital for 2015 Annual Report

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By Nicola Sinclair, CA Today

4 November 2015

Nicola Sinclair on PwC’s drive towards digital in the corporate annual report.

Black text, A4, glossy paper, endless pages. This is the familiar format of the corporate annual report. As digital tools continue to transform the business landscape, it’s perhaps hard to believe that our approach to corporate reporting has changed little in a couple of centuries.

However, the latest Annual Report and Accounts 2015 from PwC is a radical departure, presented in a format the company hails as ‘groundbreaking’.

“This is a first in the reporting world. It's very experimental and designed to encourage others to think more creatively about ways of presenting corporate reporting,” said Margaret Cassidy, PwC’s Director, Reputation and Regulation.

What’s different?

The PwC Annual Report 2015 is presented on a dedicated website. Content is divided across seven click-through screens covering the year in review, governance, services, people, clients, corporate impact and financial statements.

There is virtually no text: each section of the Report opens with a short summary, while the ‘meat’ of the information is presented in engaging videos, concise infographics and quirky animations. Social media icons encourage instant sharing, while files are also available in more traditional formats, such as pdfs and transcripts.

Why the change?

Writing on PwC’s blog page, Gilly Lord, Head of Regulatory Affairs, said: “Reporting needs to evolve to become useful for investors, employees, suppliers and many others. Exciting new digital techniques should be part of that evolution.”

PwC believes that the new format:

  • Allows users to navigate straight to the areas of most interest to them
  • Presents key information in an engaging and accessible format
  • Encourages content to be better utilised and shared
  • Reflects PwC’s values as a forward-thinking organisation

The shape of things to come?

It depends. Gilly makes the interesting point that for large listed companies, this kind of reporting would actually be illegal. She argues that filing rules for Companies House – which specifies paper documents, posted, A4, white paper, black print – should have been left in 1844. As a limited liability partnership, PwC isn’t bound by such strict guidelines

Gilly said: “In order to allow the experimentation required to evolve corporate reporting, these rules need to be updated for the 21st Century.”

It remains to be seen how other businesses and organisations will embrace digital technology in their annual reports but the drive towards digital appears to be picking up with many companies going for print and digital options to meet obligations and reach their respective audiences.

Image source: Intrepix / Shutterstock.com

Topics

  • Corporate and financial reporting
  • Technology

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