Companies’ communication practices are developing fast and with it, the nature of the financial analyst profession. So it is difficult to imagine what things were like in the late fifties, when the first Award was organized (1957). Did companies have dedicated investor relations to communicate with the outside financial community, how often did they give information on how their business was developing, and which tools were used by sell-side or buy-side analysts, if they existed at all? No doubt, the business of analysing and investing was already quite adventurous back then, and regular and high quality information must have been warmly welcomed.
Fact is that the line-up of early winners of the Award tells us a lot about the history of corporate Belgium. Some of the early laureates include AG-Vie (1957), Métallurgique Hainaut-Sambre (1961), CBR (1963), Acec (1966) … As far as we know, the survey focused on the Annual Report, the most traditional and in-depth communication tool with analysts and investors for many years.
For reasons unknown to us, the Award was not organized in the years 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1980.
The rebirth of stock markets in the early eighties must have encouraged the development of more frequent information flows. As from 1984, the Award was split between “Best Annual Report” (Intercom) and “Best Periodical Information” (UCB).
Stock markets’ golden age continued into the nineties, seducing a lot of smaller companies to become public. As from1997, a separate nomination was given to the best of these smaller companies, with Sipef as the first laureate. Meanwhile, the main Award was renamed “Award for Best Financial Information”, as it is still called today. In the survey, attention was increasingly paid to the quality of the corporate website.
Financial communication tools never stopped developing and expanding. The nineties saw listed companies acknowledging the need for more and better information and investing in dedicated investor relation services. At ABAF-BVFA, the idea was raised to give separate nominations for four different aspects of financial information and communication: 1/ Annual Report, 2/ Press Releases, 3/ Investor Relations, and 4/ Website.
In order to put less emphasis on the source of information (annual report or website), the decision was taken to group the survey questions in a different way. We also decided to give a nomination for the Best Mid & Small cap company, being the non-Bel20 member with the highest score in the overall ranking. As a result of the above, the overall reward was renamed into Award for Best Financial Communication, with the 4 additional nominations being 1/ Non-Financial Information, 2/ Financial Information, 3/ Investor Relations, and 4/ Mid & Small Cap.
A global review of all the winners until 2016 can be found here.