Update your website

Getting caught with stale information on your website is an embarrassing – and usually preventable – moment. Investor relations can lead the way in protecting the company reputation by keeping that website up to date – or ensuring that someone is tasked with monitoring the corporate site.

The latest slap at a company website comes from Thomas Brown, a hedge fund guy writing on the BankStocks.com blog. Brown has been on the warpath against Bank of America and its CEO, and he takes another slap today in a post called “Ken Lewis’s Web Bio: Update Urgently Needed.” 

The B of A executive bio Brown cites gives Lewis implied credit for big increases in revenue, profit, assets and shareholder value …

During his tenure, Bank of America has improved customer satisfaction significantly across every major line of business; annual revenue has increased from $33 billion to $66 billion; annual profit has increased from $7.5 billion to $15 billion; assets have increased from $642 billion to $1.7 trillion; market capitalization has grown from $74 billion to $183 billion; and total annual shareholder returns (including stock price growth plus dividends) have averaged 13.3%, doubling peers, the KBW Banks Index, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the same period.

… except that it doesn’t cite a time period for those stellar results.

Anyone who hasn’t been lost at sea knows that shareholder value in the banking biz – and for B of A – hasn’t been growing of late.

Brown refutes the rosy results point by point. That $138 billion market cap for BAC? It’s dropped to $38 billion, says Brown (closer to $30 billion after today). And the 13.3% annual total shareholder return? Brown calculates average total return as negative 18% per year during Lewis’s tenure as CEO.

I’m not into kicking a bank when it’s down, or siding with the hedgies. Generally, blending financial metrics into corporate descriptive material seems like a good idea – perspective and all that. But letting it go stale? Let’s just say it gives ammunition to the critics.

Best practice would assign responsibility for monitoring web content to someone who’s part of the company’s messaging process, whether it’s a person in IR, corporate communications or an outside firm. (The task should not go to a tech person or web designer, whose skills are not in financial communication.) 

This has to be an ongoing maintenance commitment. And you must decide a comfort level for how often to check and update the site: quarterly would make sense, at least, maybe monthly or a continual loop process.

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2 Responses to “Update your website”

  1. Krupo Says:

    Alternate headlines – “why bragging doesn’t work; at the very least should be done carefully.”

  2. Dick Johnson Says:

    Good point. Periodic falls from high places (in the market or elsewhere) should teach us there’s something to be said for humility. In IR, maybe that means a factual tone, not too heavy on self-congratulation, when times are good.

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