I just have to comment on an item in Patricia Best’s column “Nobody’s Business” in the business section of the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, May 9th. According to Ms. Best, at the Thomson Corporation’s recent Annual General Meeting, a shareholder stood up and read the following sentence from page 2 of the company’s 2005 Annual Report:
“And in the fixed income market, Thomson TradeWeb processed a record US$43 trillion in trades as it continued its aggressive expansion into new asset classes and new geographies.”
When he finished reading, the shareholder apparently commented (I’m quoting from Best’s column):
“I’ve travelled a lot; I’ve been around the world. But I’ve never heard of a new geography. What are you talking about? …”
Apparently, when the CEO, attempting to answer, explained that the division had expanded into Europe and Latin America, the shareholder cut him off and said, “None of those are geographies.”
To borrow an expression from my Australian friends, I say “good on ya” to the shareholder for calling the company on such language!
After reading the column, I went and looked up the Annual Report to see if what the shareholder said was true. Sure enough, it’s right there in a letter signed by the Chairman of the Board and the President/CEO.
Mind you, by the time I got to the sentence in question, I realized that what was probably bothering the shareholder wasn’t so much the misuse of the word geography as all the other jargon and nonsense the reader had to wade through before getting to the end of that page — gems like: “value chain”, “locus of value creation”, and “workflow solutions”.
Given all the time, effort and money that goes into Annual Reports, it’s refreshing to know that people actually (try to) read them!