THE Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants has awarded its Award of Excellence for Electronic Disclosure to oil and gas company Nexen Inc.Runner up in the annual awards for electronic disclosure, which I recently rated as among the most reliable of such awards programs, was past three-in-row winner PotashCorp, the international fertilizer company.
(Disclosure: We have advised both companies on their IR websites but have no relationship with the CICA’s awards program.)
These companies have worked hard to develop their sites, and both demonstrate a strong understanding of best practice and investors’ needs. Most importantly, they are willing to innovate and lead.
Nexen proves you don’t need a big budget to be great
Nexen Inc.’s website is the product almost exclusively of internal expertise with a few outsourced features, such as an EuroInvestor stock chart. The site has an excellent navigation scheme and high levels of usability. The IR site’s deep content is complemented by an outstanding corporate governance section.
Nexen does not believe in providing a full HTML annual report, which is something I believe they should rethink. However, this is not a big budget website, which is probably what makes it most remarkable.
It shows what companies can do with a bit of thought, innovative spirit (I love the inclusion of the free Add This bookmark plug-in that we use on this blog), and good old fashioned hard work.
In their comments, the judges had this to say about Nexen’s electronic disclosure:
Nexen’s overall organization of the site shows that they have really
given some thought as to how investors access information — and what
information investors want access to. Judges commented favourably
on the stock chart interface and the HTML financial statements.
This effective website has great context and strategy. The site does an
excellent job including all important content and doing so in an intuitive,
user-friendly way. The navigation is clean and simple, despite the large
volume of content.
There is good usability with best practices followed in almost all
respects. RSS feeds are also available.
PotashCorp is a global beacon in its industry
PotashCorp’s IR website is the product of internal and external collaboration with a variety of experts. The site, with its extensive company background and unique market data section, is a vital resource for anyone interested in the global fertilizer business. PotashCorp has decided that the Web is the company’s primary channel for investor and broader stakeholder communication.
I think the CICA Awards judges sum up the site accurately in their comments:
This is an excellent site. There is an abundance of industry and corporate
content. There is also significant depth in virtually every aspect of the
content, which gives the user a good understanding of the company.
This is very much a bench mark in terms of the depth of content and
PotashCorp uses best practice approaches in terms of navigation.
The good consistent use of main navigation, sub navigation and page
level tab navigation allows the user to find just about anything.
Judges say most others did a “poor job”
Truth be told, every website has its warts and neither of these websites is perfect. But it’s obvious that these companies are making determined efforts to use the Web to tell their stories and communicate the information investors need in a transparent, timely and investor-centric way.
In their comments, the judges report that the 125 company websites they reviewed for the awards “generally did a poor job at communicating essential information, presenting it and facilitating navigation.”
The CICA electronic disclosure awards are part of a larger corporate reporting awards program that includes judges from the CICA, the Toronto CFA Society, the Canadian Investor Relations Institute, Deloitte, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The electronic disclosure component is coordinated by Jerry Trites, who is Secretary-Treasurer of XBRL Canada, an information systems consultant, a retiring Professor of Accounting and Information Systems (St Francis Xavier University) and a retired partner of KPMG.