Mumbai: The Free Press Journal along with Care Edge, its knowledge partner, held its jury meeting to decide the Best Annual Report Award winners. This was the second year in a row that The Free Press Journal along with the knowledge partner created a system to identify excellence in the sectors featuring shortlisted winners.
The jury consisted of erudite members with vast experience. It was led by former SEBI Chairman M Damodaran. He probed, argued, debated, deliberated and discussed in detail, the parameters that were used to decide on the shortlisted winners in seven sectors.
The jury deliberated whether there should be an award for the best environmental, social, and corporate (ESG) governance from the industry. However, given the ambiguities that each of the alphabets in ESG involved, it was decided to defer the awards for the ESG segment.
Tough decision for jury members
The awards were decided on the basis of transparency, governance, precision and simplicity of the language used in the annual reports. The jury also considered the performance of the companies. These were the factors that were considered by the jury to arrive at a unanimous consensus on the shortlisted award winners.
Seven sectors saw three best-performing companies shortlisted for the awards. The sectors were: Banking & Financial Services (BFSI), Chemicals, Electric Equipment, Fertilizers, Oil Exploration and Refineries, Paints, Steel & Iron Products.
The objective was to identify short-listed winners who would enjoy credibility. Such short-listed winners would also inspire other companies to look at them as role models.
Annual reports expected to meet all SEBI norms
The jury paid attention not to the bulkiness of the reports but to the simplicity and investor friendliness of such annual reports. At the same time, the annual reports were expected to meet all the compliance norms laid down by SEBI and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
"We need to ensure that what we come up with is a reasonably credible list of award winners having regard to perception in the public eye," said M Damodaran, Chairman of the jury.
Damodaran also asked the jury and knowledge partners to ensure that there was no conflict of interest. Members who had such conflicts were free to excuse themselves when it came to picking the winners and the members were free to excuse themselves from the process of deciding on the shortlisted winners.
FPJ treated the jury and knowledge partners to a video documentary on the initiatives of the publishing group. The documentary highlighted the game-changing decisions FPJ had taken. This included circulation of e-copies of its daily newspapers on its WhatsApp group. This was a practice that was started during Covid-19, but has continued as it has received great response from its readers. FPJ stated that over two million copies were distributed directly to its WhatsApp lists. It has no knowledge of how many are being further distributed.
The jury members posed probing questions on the methodology used by the knowledge partners. The jury acknowledged that the quality of an annual report cannot solely be judged on the basis of what the companies mentioned in their reports. It considered issues like accounting policies and other developments reported in the media or in the auditors' notes.
Methodology and parameters
Six parameters were divided into 22 sub-categories, each having individual weights.
The knowledge partner explained the calibration and parameters used to arrive at the shortlisted winner list. The jury collectively agreed that the annual reports must also reflect performance on governance-related issues in the company.
The intense discussions ended with wise words of advice by Chairman M Damodaran:
"The challenge is to look beyond what the company is showing us in the annual reports.
How we do that is a challenge that we need to face and overcome as this would be in the best interest of the investors."
M Damodaran, Former Chairman, SEBI and Jury Head
M Damodaran, Former Chairman, SEBI and Jury Head | FPJ
"The jury looked into a number of factors when it came to deciding on the award winners in the different sectors. An annual report is not just a document but the health-sheet of the company and any exercise to encourage clarity and transparency in the process of annual reports should be lauded. I congratulate and commend the Free Press Journal, knowledge partner and the jury for this endeavour."
Abizer Diwanji, Senior Partner, EY
Abizer Diwanji, Senior Partner, EY | FPJ
"I firmly believe that an annual report needs to be looked at with the view that what it is revealing is as important as the information that it is silent on. This exercise of scrutinizing the annual reports is a much needed one and I extend my best wishes to the Free Press Journal, knowledge partner Care Edge and the award winners."
Vishakha Mulye, CEO, Aditya Birla Capital Ltd.
Vishakha Mulye, CEO, Aditya Birla Capital Ltd. | FPJ
"It was a privilege to be a part of the second edition of the Free Press Journal initiative along with its knowledge partner Care Edge to adjudge the best annual reports. We looked at companies within nine sectors and chose the companies with the best annual reports among them."
Abhijit Sen, Senior Advisor, EY
Abhijit Sen, Senior Advisor, EY |
"It was a stimulating experience. The best way to look at the health of any company is to analyse it's annual report. This is a very important initiative. I congratulate the Free Press Journal and the knowledge partner for this session."
Utpal Sheth, CEO & Sr. Partner, RARE Enterprises
Utpal Sheth, CEO & Sr. Partner, RARE Enterprises |
"This session was to decide on the winners in a few selected sectors. Both the jury and the knowledge partner had come well-prepared. This is a good initiative that studies the audit reports of companies and can set an example for many others."
Revati Kasture, Executive Director, CareEdge
Revati Kasture, Executive Director, CareEdge |
"It was an important session. I congratulate the Free Press Journal for conducting 2023 India's Best Annual Report Awards with knowledge partner CareEdge for the second year in a row. The knowledge partner team certainly did their homework and had come thoroughly prepared. The jury asked tough questions. It only helped bring out more clarity on the selection criteria."