LAST week in London, Provident Financial plc won the Best Website for the Private Investor Award at the UK IR Society’s annual gala. It doesn’t deserve it.
The first sentence in the judging criteria for that award says: “For private investors, the internet helps to level the playing field for information access.”
But Provident Financial doesn’t provide a level playing field for retail investors. Far from it.
Check out the webcast for their Preliminary announcement of the 2006 final results on Wednesday March 7, 2007 — exactly one week before the IR Society’s judging panel met to decide on the winners.
Only if you happened to be one of the privileged few analysts able to attend the presentation of the results do you have access to the best part — the question-and-answer session.
If you’re a “private investor” or anyone else accessing the webcast, you can have the formal presentations only. Right there is where Provident Financial should have been disqualified.
In fact, Provident’s playing field is unusually less level than the average company in our survey of 525 IR websites. It’s a shame because these awards actually used to be the only ones worth paying attention to.
Now none of them are worth spit.