An Annual Report is a considerable document both content and component wise. There are various sections, lots of information and the importance of it all is at all times on the background.
The key things to watch out for really:
- The table of content is updated with latest and final changes to the Annual Report. It happens often that it’s the bit of the report that’s overlooked. Make sure the page numbers as well as titles are all up-to-date with the rest of the document. If you don’t want to bother with updating it constantly just prepare it in the very end when everything else is already done.
- All references to periods are correct – current period and prior. What happens often enough is that you do make sure current period is correct but forget to change the prior period figures accordingly. This applies to both tables and texts and all over the document really.
- Make sure there are prior period figures presented wherever applicable (even if the figure is zero). One key thing is that the Annual Report should yes, on one hand present this year’s figures, but for comparison it’s also required prior year’s figures are disclosed just as well. Obviously if it’s the very first financial year for the company there is only current year figures, but after that it’s always comparable figures required.
- All notes are cross-referenced to either main statements or other notes. Technically there shouldn’t be a note without any reference to or from other notes or statements.
- If you do decide to copy-paste something, at least make sure the text and figures are all accurate and applicable. It is one thing to be effective, but it’s not acceptable to have misleading or completely wrong information as a result.
- Math. Make sure that all numbers are totaled correctly and if there are figures, which are reached to with a formula or as a result of adding and subtracting that, they’re correct. It’s not that hard now is it? And also, if you do decide to change some figures, make sure all information that includes those same figures is also updated.
- Normally it’s expected that the unit the numbers are presented in is the same across the Annual Report, i.e. thousands. Now if for some reason you do decide to go with different units in some parts, make sure it’s clearly stated (i.e. if you present your report in thousands but do decide to go with millions in some particular part, please make it clearly stated so).
A checklist is something we strongly encourage you to use, as it makes sure you haven’t forgotten anything in the process. Truth of the fact is that as the preparation of the Annual Report is a long process, you do bits on different times and as it’s compiling it all together into one document, there are things often overlooked. Even if you add new information to some parts, it’s strongly advised to revisit and review certain areas like cross-references and page numbers within text etc.