The future of annual reports

Mei Hua & Qian Huang

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the perceived usefulness of annual report among different user groups in Denmark; the position of annual report among different information sources; the importance of the different parts of the annual report and last but not least, the importance of the different information elements/items within management commentary and note disclosures part of the annual report. This study is significant for both researching and policy-making purposes. In this study, we have chosen to conduct the electronic questionnaire survey towards six predefined respondent groups: professional investors, private investors, analysts, bank employees who engage in credit rating, bank employees who engage in corporate advisory, and journalists. We applied statistic tools from SAS to analyze data collected from the survey. The applied statistic tools in this paper include one-way analysis of variances, Tukey’s Honestly Significant Difference test, Wilcoxon Rank-sum test and Student’s t-test. The findings confirmed the three hypotheses we formed for the study: annual reports are perceived to be useful in general; different information items in the management commentary and note disclosures are perceived to be of different usefulness; and different user group has different information need, thus different user perceptions towards annual report information items. We further find out that financial statements part is perceived to be the most important component in annual report and management representation and auditors’ report is perceived to be the least important component. Note disclosures and management commentary are perceived to be of same level of importance following financial statements. In the management commentary part, description of the company’s projected development and description of business activities and relationships in the past year are perceived to be the two most useful elements, while information regarding corporate governance and corporate social responsibility are perceived by users to be the two least importance. In the note disclosure part, specification of special items in the income statement; acquisition of subsidiaries and operations and significant and critical accounting estimates are the three highest ranked note disclosure items, and disclosure of fees to the auditors is perceived to be significantly less important than all the other note disclosure items.

EducationsMSc in Applied Economics and Finance, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages132