KPN and TenneT 2017 annual reports shortlisted for Sijthoff prize


The 2017 integrated annual reports of telecoms company KPN and electricity transmission system operator TenneT, with writing and editing provided by Stampa, have been shortlisted for the prestigious FD Henri Sijthoff prize for outstanding financial reporting.

KPN is one of three nominees in the blue-chip AEX category, alongside ABN AMRO and DSM. TenneT is shortlisted in the non-quoted category along with Schiphol and public transport operator GVB.

The 64-year-old Sijthoff prize is the highest recognition of financial reporting excellence in the Netherlands. It judges areas such as clarity of writing, transparency of information about the company, its strategy, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.

Last year the KPN integrated annual report 2016, which Stampa also worked on, won a European Excellence Award for the best integrated annual report & CSR report. It is the second consecutive year that TenneT has been shortlisted for the Sijthoff prize.

KPN integrated annual report 2016 wins European Excellence Award


KPN’s integrated annual report 2016, for which Stampa provided writing and editing, has won a European Excellence Award for the best integrated annual report & CSR report.

KPN beat companies such as Robert Bosch And Melia Hotels International to the prize, which was awarded in Hamburg on 30 November. The European Excellence Awards honour outstanding performance in a wide range of categories covering everything from internal communications to public relations, as well as a wide scope of industries across Europe.

Too many ‘alsos’ turn annual reports into shopping lists


A hashtag #Also wouldn’t have quite the same ring as #MeToo, but the word ‘also’ is certainly trending at this time of year when annual report projects are in full swing.

We at Stampa write and edit many annual reports for corporate clients, and the word ‘also’ has a habit of getting hugely over-used in texts. Sometimes it seems as if someone in the process – be they writer, editor or approver – sullies nearly every sentence or paragraph with the A-word.

Why is this? I suspect it might be because many annual report sections are really glorified lists of things a company has done over a year. And sometimes those developments are so disparate that their only apparent connection is that they all ‘also’ happened in the same year.

The trouble is, when you overdo the ‘also’, you end up with a text that reads like a dull, directionless run-down, rather than a coherent strategic story.

So what’s the remedy?

First the quick-win practical tip: do a Ctrl+F to find every ‘also’ in your text and then try deleting as many as you can. You’ll find most can be scrapped – they’re usually implicit and therefore redundant.

Secondly (and this one takes more effort) – think longer and more creatively about how to group or link disparate items thematically, so your text becomes a compelling story rather than a shopping list.

Delta Lloyd annual report shortlisted again for Sijthoff prize


The 2013 annual report of insurer Delta Lloyd, written by Stampa, has been shortlisted for the FD Henri Sijthoff prize for outstanding financial reporting. It is the second year running that Delta Lloyd has made the shortlist for the prestigious award. Stampa also wrote the 2012 report.

Delta Lloyd is shortlisted in the midcap and small-cap category for the 61-year-old Sijthoff prize, the highest recognition of financial reporting excellence in the Netherlands. Nominees are judged in areas such as clarity of writing, transparency of information about the company, its strategy, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.

Amsterdam-headquartered Delta Lloyd offers insurance, pensions, investing and banking service to consumers, small and large companies, multinationals and pension funds.

How to write a better annual report


When it comes to annual reports, there is no-one-size-fits-all format or approach. That became clear at Stampa’s recent Annual Report Event.

Based on the insights of guest speaker Erik van der Merwe, a member of the Sijthoff Prize jury that selects the Netherlands’ best annual report, we’ve compiled 10 tips on how you can turn your annual report into a clear, concrete, concise company calling card.

  1. The Managing Board and Supervisory Board should set the tone and direction for your annual report –not the finance or investor relations department.
  2. Be absolutely clear in the report about what your company does: its strategy, goals, achievements, risks and challenges. Be transparent.
  3. Provide context. Give an overview of your markets, how your company is positioned and what your competitors are doing.
  4. Use concrete examples and quantitative information to tell your story. This doesn’t mean your report should become even longer. Opt for information that gives real insight into the company’s performance, such as targets and why some were not achieved, rather than repeating information already on the corporate website. (No need for  20 pages on remuneration if it’s explained online). Let the report support your ongoing communication channels, keeping stakeholders informed all year round.
  5. Include information usually reserved for investor presentations, such the impact of one-off costs or currency fluctuations. It gives a better corporate economic analysis.
  6. Risk sections in particular should be more quantitative, for example, by including risk scenarios and their possible outcomes.
  7. Give details of client and employee satisfaction surveys. Many companies conduct them, but what specific things does your company measure and how do you use this information? Customer evaluations in particular can indicate problems that need addressing.
  8. Explain why certain decisions were made during the year, such as an acquisition, divestment or new bank loan, and whether those made in previous years have had the desired outcome.
  9. Be open about the people steering your company. What do they look at internally when making decisions? Be more detailed about management changes and succession planning.
  10. Supervisory Board reports in particular are often inadequate. Don’t just list the number of times the members met during the year, but mention what they discussed and how they’re addressing issues. Provide details of the Supervisory Board’s self-assessment .Do the members have expertise and experience that is relevant to your business or sector?

“Twenty pages on remuneration? That makes me sick”


Transparency, said Erik van der Merwe, has never destroyed a company. “But lack of transparency has.”

Van der Merwe (photo left), jury member for the Netherlands’ coveted Sijthoff annual report prize, was one of three expert speakers at Stampa’s Annual Report Event last week. Sharing the podium – and some lively repartee – with him were corporate governance guru Paul Frentrop (right) and Paul Koster, new head of the Dutch shareholders’ association VEB (centre).

The theme was Annual reports: yearly headache or company calling card? and the speakers shared illuminating insights into the why, how, what and ‘for whom’ of annual reports as well as a mass of practical advice.

Comparing a 60-page report from 1973 with a recent 400-page tome, Paul Frentrop said annual reports had become illegible, unintelligible and primarily served internal control purposes.

“The closing of the book year is the most dangerous time for a company,” he noted, citing several accounting scandals that broke just before companies’ annual reports came out.

Firms should use annual reports as external communication tools to explain clearly to the outside world “what’s really keeping the company busy,” he advised the audience of corporate communications and investor relations professionals at Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ concert hall.

Beyond box-ticking

That plea for shorter, clearer, more readable reports was echoed by Van der Merwe. Rather than a necessary evil or box-ticking exercise, Van der Merwe said annual reports were a golden opportunity to give insights into a company’s strategy, decision-making, performance, dilemmas and much, much more.

Offering the guests a series of practical tips, Van der Merwe said annual reports should be more concrete, meaningful and succinct. Much could be deleted, shortened (“Twenty pages on remuneration? That makes me sick”) or placed instead on the company’s website.

The most important word, he said, was transparency. “For years, the Sijthoff jury has been advocating greater transparency in annual reports. We’ve partly succeeded – but we’re not there yet.”

“Why the secrecy?”

VEB chief Paul Koster also urged companies to open up more. He argued that annual reports are useful snapshots in time yet are often too little, too late in today’s dynamic digital world.

“You can’t wait for the annual report. The world is moving too fast,” said Koster. “I’d like companies to communicate more regularly about how things are going – maybe even issuing trading updates every month. Why the secrecy? Investors want to know.”

The talks triggered a lively discussion among the audience and speakers on areas including integrated reporting and the relative virtues of different annual report formats. Opinions varied widely and everyone came away with substantial food for thought rather than (thank goodness) cookie-cutter solutions.

One thing’s for sure: we at Stampa endorse the call for clear, compelling, concise annual reports as part of a consistent regular communications process. Whether you see your annual report (wrongly) as a headache or (rightly) as a calling card, good communication is a year-round necessity.

Annual reports: yearly headache or company calling card?


For many corporate communications departments, annual reports are a necessary evil, something they must compile every year to oblige shareholders and regulators. But an annual report can also be a powerful tool that brings alive corporate strategy and conveys a company’s vision to a broader audience.

How do you produce a vibrant and compelling annual report? What do investors seek? What exactly do regulators demand? These are just some of the questions we hope to answer at a special event Stampa is hosting for communications and investor relations professionals in Amsterdam on 11 September.

Having worked with numerous blue-chip companies on their annual and/or sustainability reports, we’re aiming to share some of our insights with participants at the event. Joining us will be three guest speakers, experts in their fields, who will address various aspects of the annual reporting process:

  • Paul Koster, Chairman of Dutch shareholders’ association VEB
  • Paul Frentrop, Professor of Corporate Governance at Nyenrode Business University
  • Erik van der Merwe, Chairman of the Achmea Supervisory Board and jury member for the Sijthoff annual report prize

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their own best practices during the afternoon and to network over drinks afterwards. Chatham House rules will apply, allowing free and open discussion. The event will be held in Dutch.

For more information, or to register for the event, please e-mail desiree@stampacommunications.com

Delta Lloyd 2012 annual report shortlisted for Sijthoff prize


Insurer Delta Lloyd’s 2012 annual report, written by Stampa, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Henri Sijthoff prize for outstanding financial reporting.

The Sijthoff prize is the highest recognition of financial reporting excellence in the Netherlands. It is awarded annually by financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad to companies in three categories: those listed on the Amsterdam Exchange Index (AEX); midcap and small-cap companies; and non-listed companies.

“Annual reports are too often cluttered with cookie-cutter corporate texts. It’s great to see this recognition of our efforts to write a clear, accessible and highly informative 2012 annual report for Delta Lloyd,” says Stampa director Abigail Levene, who heads up the agency’s Benelux corporate content practice.

Delta Lloyd was shortlisted from 25 others in the midcap category. Nominees are judged in areas such as clarity of writing, transparency of information about the company, its strategy, investor relations, press releases, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. Online communication and social media are also increasingly important.

Amsterdam-headquartered Delta Lloyd offers insurance, pensions, investing and banking service to consumers, small and large companies, multinationals and pension funds.

Delta Lloyd appoints Stampa to write 2012 annual report


Dutch-listed financial services provider Delta Lloyd has commissioned Stampa to write and edit its 2012 annual report.

Delta Lloyd offers insurance, pensions, investing and banking service to consumers, small and large companies, multinationals and pension funds. It operates under three strong brands: Delta Lloyd, OHRA and ABN AMRO Insurance.

Stampa’s Anglo-Dutch team of highly experienced former financial journalists will produce the annual report in English, as well as creating a Dutch summary.

Stampa to write Vopak Annual Report 2012


Vopak, the world’s largest independent tank storage provider, has appointed Stampa to write its Annual Report 2012.

Headquartered in Rotterdam and listed in Amsterdam, Vopak specialises in the storage and handling of liquid chemicals, gases and oil products, operating 84 terminals with a combined storage capacity of almost 30 million cubic metres in 31 countries.

Vopak’s Annual Report 2012 will be written in English, making Stampa’s Anglo-Dutch team of highly experienced former business journalists a natural choice.