Ask any US-based corporate reporter where they look to innovate and experiment with their annual reporting, and there’s a high probability they won’t say, “Our 10-k filing.” Largely viewed as a compliance document, the 10-k is slowly earning a new reputation thanks to pioneers like GE and Intel who have literally thrown out the usual SEC form and replaced it with an engaging and visually compelling annual report.
On a recent <IR> US Community conversation, Intel reporting executives Erika Kelly, external reporting controller, and Sam Roberts, financial reporting controller, walked through their 2017 annual report and how it reflects the company's business evolution
“In the same way we’re transitioning our company, we’re transitioning how we report,” said Sam, adding that the 2017 annual report is the product of a multi-year process and will continue to change over the coming years.
Erika stressed that Intel wanted to tell “one story” spread across the company’s different reports, including an annual CSR report. That’s reflected in the reports’ content as well as the similar design treatments, underscoring that a singular strategy connects the activities. Human capital, corporate responsibility and sustainability also feature early in the annual report and quite visibly compared to standard 10-k form treatments.
Bringing the Intel story to life visually meant highlighting data even if the performance fell short of goals or expectations. Erika and Sam admitted that internally it took convincing to take a more graphic-heavy approach but that most stakeholders see the value of it now. In fact, the graphics give Intel a chance to talk about financial performance in a new way, which may be helpful in down years to explain what happened and how the company plans to address issues.
Beyond the investor relations and financial teams, each business unit also had a three-page spread in the annual report and opportunity to show how they contribute to Intel’s success. Small changes, like switching from paragraphs to bullet points had big impact on improving readability and providing snapshots of performance.
The new treatment allows readers to understand Intel’s financial performance for the year, while also learning about the business overall and how its products and services fit into the bigger picture. Traditional 10-k filings often assume the reader has that knowledge or can seek it out easily elsewhere. “It’s hard to tell the transition that’s happening in our business in the previous format,” said Sam. “We had to make what was going on in our business more alive.”
Post authored by Rachel Riccardella of Kite Global Advisors, a thought leadership advisory firm helping clients shape the debate on the issues that matter most to them.