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Jan 07, 2013

The annual report endures, NIRI survey finds

Median annual report budgets increase as use of outside help declines

Like a grand old hotel refurbished to modern tastes and needs, the venerable annual report to shareholders endures – albeit in a toned-up, green and techno version. That is the key takeaway from the most recent annual report member survey from NIRI, the US investor relations association.

The majority of respondents produce both print and electronic versions of the annual report, while 5 percent issue an electronic version exclusively, and 7 percent put out just a printed report.

Eighty-eight percent of the 133 survey respondents produce an annual report in some form, which is around the same level as the last survey two years ago. The 10K wrap continues to be the preferred print format at 45 percent, though that is down from the past two surveys (66 percent in 2010 and 57 percent in 2008).

The traditional annual report is still produced by 26 percent of respondents, followed by summary annual reports at 9 percent, both down from previous years. CSR/sustainability reports are growing slightly in popularity: 13 percent of respondents produced them in 2012, compared with 11 percent in 2010.

The formats used for electronic versions of the annual report are similar to the print versions, with the 10K wrap the most popular (45 percent), followed by a traditional annual report (24 percent). NIRI finds both electronic formats down on previous years, however, from 63 percent and 34 percent, respectively, while summary annual reports have risen to 13 percent from 9 percent in 2010.

Seventy-four percent of respondents report taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of their report, including such moves as printing fewer copies, making eco-friendly paper choices and cutting page count. The majority of respondents (56 percent) print fewer than 10,000 copies, unchanged from 2010.

Turning to book size, the median page count remains in the 51 to 100-page range, while the percentage of respondents pushing page counts above 100 continues to grow. The number favoring smaller books remains flat or down on previous years.

In a bit of good news for IROs, NIRI notes that after four years of decline, median annual budgets have increased by 2 percent (inflation adjusted) to $65,000. The cost of both print and electronic versions are up about 30 percent from 2010.

The survey reveals bad news for vendors, however, as the use of outside resources for every aspect of annual report production, from design and co-ordination to writing and photography, continues to decline: 16 percent of respondents report handling the entire project in-house.