WHILE other countries’ banks have been snapping like twigs under the stresses of the financial crisis, Canada’s conservative financial institutions have been as steadfast as giant Douglas-firs in an old-growth forest.
That cautiousness is great when it comes to looking after their customers’ money, but it also makes for some extremely boring corporate communications — and, it’s fair to say, investor relations professionals who could make career bureaucrats seem racy.
So it’s quite extraordinary to see one of them break ranks with that starch-collar image, as TD Bank Financial Group (TSE:TD, NYSE:TD) has just done by launching an online annual report that includes YouTube videos, social sharing tools and links to the bank’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Sure, other companies have been there, done that and gone further than TD – but they’re not Canadian banks. And in most cases, they have not been as open to public feedback as TD is.
Of course, since the videos are on YouTube, anyone can embed them like I have below. This enables the bank to get its story out to more people than it would if the videos were only available in the report. Here’s the video of CEO Ed Clark reviewing the year’s results (click on the YouTube logo if you’d like to comment on it):
One of the more innovative features of the report is the ability to share links via social media to specific abstracts rather than only to the top of a page. For example, if you follow the link in the Twitter message below you’ll go to the precise place on the page where the information is located:
Check out Key Financial Metrics via TD’s 2010 Annual Report http://bit.ly/hSe2iA “
The link above will take you to a spot below the fold on the page shown below:
The TD 2010 online annual report, developed by Toronto-based Q30 Design, stands in stark contrast to those of its Canadian banking peers.
While TD’s report includes 11 YouTube videos and links to its social media accounts, Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia and National Bank of Canada have provided their 2010 reports in PDF only. This alone helps TD to separate itself from the group as the lone modern and progressive organization.
However, online corporate reporting purists, which would include me, will note that TD’s report falls far short of the best when it comes to the real meat of an annual report, namely the financial statements, footnotes and MD&A. These are available in PDF only, which could give some the impression that the report is more about marketing than accounting to shareholders.
Nonetheless, it’s good to see that at least one Canadian bank is breaking new ground by incorporating social media into its online annual report.