HSBC Holdings has won the prestigious Best Report Award in this year's Hong Kong Management Association Best Annual Reports competition. It is the first time the banking group has won the coveted top award, although it took the Gold Award last year. 'Of course, we are very pleased to receive this award,' an HSBC spokesperson said. The report is produced entirely within HSBC and published in English, Chinese, Japanese and French. The HKMA says HSBC won the award for its 2001 report because it is 'a high quality report with comprehensive coverage and professional presentation, and overall excellence in all aspects comparable to the highest international standard'. 'HSBC Holdings plc deserves special mention for making the report more user friendly, and in the full version the report definitely had excellent disclosure to better understand their businesses,' the HKMA judges said. One reason for HSBC's high level of disclosure is its wide international presence: the group is listed on four exchanges and follows a policy of complying with the most onerous requirements, according to the spokesperson. The HSBC annual report was issued in two versions for the first time in 2001: a full version of more than 300 pages and a shorter 'annual review' with all the main points. According to the bank, about 90 per cent of shareholders opted to receive the shorter print version. Both versions were made available on the Internet after the annual results were announced. HSBC won specific praise from the judges for its reporting of analysis of income and expenses. 'The variation in reporting the relevant information was wide and so is the variety of information that can be provided by companies depending on their types of business. Big companies tended to provide both more information as well as better analysis and explanation of performance and variance in all their main activities.' As well as HSBC Holdings, judges cited the MTR Corp, CLP Holdings, Swire Pacific, CNOOC and Johnson Electric Holdings in this regard. The banking group was also a winner when it came to promptness of reporting. The judges noted that more than 70 per cent of entrants produced their reports within 91 days after the accounting date, well within the 120-day limit required under new listing rules. The judges said HSBC Holdings provided plenty of information beyond the required minimum. HSBC was one of six companies that received special mention 'for a high degree of compliance with the disclosure requirements of the Listing Rules and the Companies Ordinance, for the provision of additional information and for the overall standard of presentation in their annual reports'. Annual reports could be made interesting to read by using a little imagination, the judges noted, giving HSBC Holdings credit for its 'around the world in a typical day' theme, where pictures and captions throughout the report depict a day in the life of the banking giant and its customers. Here is an excerpt from the HSBC Holdings' annual review describing the 'Day in the Life of HSBC' illustrative theme: 'HSBC's network of offices spans most of the world's time zones from New Zealand, not far away from the International Dateline in the Pacific, and Australia and westwards across the globe to Canada. At any time of the day or night, somewhere in the world, HSBC is serving its 31 million customers. 'The photographs in this Annual Review illustrate key developments in HSBC over the past 12 months across a wide range of our businesses in the course of implementing our strategic plan, 'Managing for Value'. Tracing a typical day, for our customers and for our employees, the pictures illustrate that work at HSBC goes on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.'