annual report

If you want to impress your shareholders, promote your brand, engage your employees, or attract more investors, you need an annual report. Annual reports are a great way to communicate with stakeholders and the public about your financial standing and plans for the future. Read this article to learn more.

Table of Contents

What is an Annual report?

The annual report is the company’s formal disclosure document, which contains financial information about its business. It is a document that overviews a company’s activities over the past year. It includes management discussion and analysis, risk management discussion and analysis, business description, corporate governance principles and policies, internal control summary, and any other relevant information regarding a company’s financial position. Annual reports are usually published annually, although some companies publish them more frequently.

What is the Purpose of Annual Reports?

The primary purpose of an annual report is to provide shareholders and stakeholders with information about companies’ financial performance, disclosure of operational activities, and future goals and targets.  Investors use annual reports to make decisions about future investments to make in your company. They’re also a good way of communicating with investors, employees, and other stakeholders. This is because they help you tell your story, build trust with your stakeholders, and provide an opportunity to demonstrate how well you’re doing at achieving the goals set in previous years.

In addition to communicating with these groups, annual reports can also be used to communicate with regulators (such as the SEC), suppliers, and customers. For example, suppose your business competes with other companies in your industry or region. In that case, you may find that sending an annual report is a good idea if you want to keep up-to-date on what they’re doing so that you can learn from them instead of being left behind by competitors. Moreover, annual reports can help you understand your business’s performance over time by showing trends in sales or expenses that may not have been apparent otherwise.

Structure Of Annual Reports

The annual report is a document that shareholders or investors can use to get an overview of the company’s overall performance. Annual report structure may vary from company to company, but the main components that are included in annual reports are; 

  • Letter from CEO 
  • Previous year’s performance record
  • Financial statements
  • Outlook for future performance
annual report

Letter From CEO

The letter from the CEO includes a summary of the business’s prior-year performance. The accomplishments of the company are also listed in this letter. The purpose of this letter is to address shareholders; therefore, it includes all the information that interests shareholders.

Previous Year's Performance

This component highlights the company’s achievements with the intent to satisfy shareholders with their investments in the company. It also intends to persuade more potential investors to invest in a company.

Financial Statements

Financial statements include quantitative data of the company’s financial performance. These statements include the following;

Balance sheet:  It reports the company’s assets, liability, and shareholders’ equity. It provides a snapshot of the financial performance of the company.

Income statement: It reports a financial performance during a particular accounting period. The income statement’s main topics are the revenue, costs, profits, and losses incurred by a corporation over a specific time period.

Cash Flow Statement: It provides the aggregate cash inflow and outflow data and cash equivalents due to operating, investing, and financing activities.

Additionally, people also use graphs and images along with financial statements to make data clearer and more attractive.

Format Of Annual Reports

Although annual reports in hardcopy are still prevalent, electronic versions are becoming more and more popular and are available on the websites of many businesses. The reports can be made available in PDF or other forms to a greater audience by using electronic versions. In addition, interactive online reports are common and popular as they allow viewers to expand graphics and virtual flip-ups through reports.

Who Reads Your Annual Reports?

Although annual reports are available for the general public, the main audience who mostly reads them includes;

  • Shareholders
  • Investors
  • Board of directors
  • Management team (if applicable)
  • Suppliers and vendors may invest in the company’s performance or financial health, e.g., an investor who has provided funding for a specific project or product development effort.


The annual report is your opportunity to communicate clearly with your public, stockholders and shareholders about your financial standing and plans for the future. It’s also a great way to keep them updated on what’s happening at the company.

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