Now in its 12th edition, the Swiss Webranking by Comprend has taken a closer look at how listed companies in Switzerland are meeting the growing expectations of stakeholders in terms of transparency and dialogue through digital channels. It finds that while Swiss companies are improving, there are no “stand outs” in the European context.
Swiss business publication Bilanz reports exclusively today that Swisscom takes first place from reigning champion Credit Suisse, moving up 7 places from last year with 69.9 points out of 100, obtaining the title of the best company for digital corporate communications in the Webranking by Comprend 2015 Switzerland study, in collaboration with Lundquist. It also wins the title of “best improver”, gaining an impressive 18.1 points. Second place goes to ABB (67.6 points) for the second year in a row, while Sika, for the first time on the podium, comes in third with 62.7 points.
As the criteria in the protocol are based upon the needs and expectations of stakeholders – through annual surveys to investors, journalists and jobseekers – half of the max score (50 points out of 100) is considered the threshold at which companies respond adequately to capital demands.
This year, and for the first time ever, Swiss companies beat the European passing rate, with only 26% of the 500 European companies analysed making the cut. Thirty-six percent of Swiss companies pass the test, up from 22% in 2014, and 16% in 2013. Despite this, no Swiss companies find themselves in the European top 10, and only 7 are among the top 50.
The failure rate amongst the 47 Swiss companies evaluated has also dropped substantially, with companies at the bottom of the ranking (those who do not meet the minimum content required by the market, meaning they achieved less than 30 points out of a total of 100) decreasing from 22% to 13%.
A key theme that emerges is that whilst the Swiss listed companies are presenting their future vision on their corporate website (in strategy documents, annual reports, CSR reports and so forth), the hard facts needed to back these up are often times missing. In fact, under 20% of Swiss companies publish information on debt, risk management and market positioning, and just 21% present their financial goals.
This trend is evident in CSR as well, where 87% talk about CSR commitments, yet 36% of the companies do not have a CSR reporting in place yet. Whilst the rest of Europe is marching towards the “mainstreaming” of CSR reporting, with 73% of companies having a CSR report, a figure that rises to over 80% in the UK, Switzerland is falling behind. In Switzerland, only 64% have a report in a place, yet 80% present an approach or strategy nonetheless.
Not having the numbers, or information on debt and risk management, to back up the strategy is problematic, as evidenced in the Webranking Capital Markets survey (conducted annually to find out what stakeholders expect from corporate websites). The survey revealed that financial market participants expect to promptly obtain this data, needed to underpin their investment recommendations or simply make informed estimates of the future market value of the company. Simply having the information, without the data to back it up, risks alienating an important group of stakeholders.