From frustration to efficiency

From frustration
to efficiency…

Enhancing the corporate reporting process.

The annual report. For many companies, these words evoke thoughts of poorly edited drafts, countless data syncs, tiresome triple-checking, repetitive revisions, back-and-forth with departments, and hours spent racing the clock. If you’ve been or currently still are in the midst of it all, you know the production process is always stressful and often rife with inefficiencies. To shed light on some classic annual reporting frustrations a recent survey* studied the behavior of various companies during the last reporting season. With several interesting and intriguing findings as a result. How to strive for an effective and accurate production process seems to be a quest for most organizations when meeting their ever more complex reporting needs.

Two content streams. Many complications.

The average production process involves two content streams: the narrative sections and the financial sections of the annual report. While the front sections of the annual report contain narrative content (e.g. activity report), the back sections feature more numbers-driven material (e.g. financial statements and notes). Each content stream comes with its own nuances and complications. At first glance alone, these processes can be incredibly frustrating. Riddled with inefficiencies and always ripe for improvement.

Presenting the numbers.

Many finance departments use a disclosure management system to populate the back sections of the report: producing the tables in the financial statements and the commentary in accompanying notes. After delivering their results to the annual report project manager, finance often considers their job done. But it’s not. In reality, it’s only just begun. Research shows that clients synced their data an average of 41 times. Requesting updates and compulsively checking for mistakes can be quite a hassle.

Telling the story.

Collaboration is key across the entire production process — but especially in regards to the narrative sections of the annual report. Here, the text is massaged, tweaked, and discussed, infographics are continually updated, board photos are retouched, and elements are regularly moved around last-minute. According to the same survey, companies make an average of 275 revisions to their annual report in the last two weeks before publication.

average revisions in annual report
* Study by digital finance association FinTech in 2023.

These statistics show that companies have a great need for collaboration and crave the ability to manage final changes and immediate edits while working continuous on mostly the narrative parts of the annual report.

Devise your approach.

Publishing an annual report is a major milestone in every organization’s calendar. No doubt it can be stressful as there is so much to remember. But if you want to create a report that ticks all the regulatory compliance boxes, as well as standing out for all the right reasons among your competitors, having a clear plan of action is essential. As there are no ready-made solutions, your reporting process should always be tailored.

Know what’s coming.

While many companies like to postpone post-publication evaluations, we view such project reviews as crucial steppingstones for progress. A strategic analysis meticulously assesses every aspect of the design and production process to pinpoint any discrepancies between the final output and the original objectives related to approach, content, narrative, layout and technology. Such a systematic analysis provides actionable insights, allowing organizations to identify opportunities to enhance impact and quality of future reports. The insights gained lead to tailored recommendations that address the unique reporting challenges faced by each organization. Understanding the organizational impact of reporting is crucial for crafting effective storytelling and streamlining the entire production process.

Do you wonder how to optimize your reporting? TD Cascade is happy to help. Contact us to initiate a conversation that may transform your approach to corporate reporting—no strings attached.

A new era

After 32 years Olga IJspeert is passing on the baton…

After 32 years Olga IJspeert is passing on the baton…

After finishing art school in Enschede and additional training in design management at Erasmus University, Olga took her first steps in the profession at Staatdrukkerij (SDU). There she learned a lot about identities and information design. After five years, she switched to Total Design as team leader and later member of the management team. This is also how she discovered her commercial qualities. The entrepreneurial blood was unstoppable and in 1990 Olga started her own agency, Cascade.

Olga: ‘I come from an entrepreneurial family, and apparently I had inherited that gene. My dream was to set up a creative lab with all kinds of different design and communication disciplines, which would convincingly and consistently shape the basic core values of a company, the corresponding image, from one thought.’

Over the years, Cascade has increasingly developed into a design and communications agency specialising in information design and reporting. It now works for the largest clients in the Netherlands and Belgium. For some for more than 20 years.

Olga: ‘Our strength was in corporate identity and design, underpinned by the corporate story. Over the past 10 years, reporting also became increasingly important again, but now the focus was mainly on continuous reporting and benchmarking on the one hand and on the story and social and environmental policy of the company on the other. Reporting has therefore also developed enormously in recent years in technical terms. It is now about much more than facts and figures. European directives on corporate social responsibility (ESG) have only accelerated that process.’ 

Partly because of these developments, the ambition arose to work in a broader context again with partners who were also interested in information design and reporting. In addition, the covid pandemic had made it clear to Olga that a distinction was emerging in how different generations dealt with this new reality. She felt it was time to hand over the baton, and in 2020 she decided to sell Cascade. Almost naturally, Total Design and Cascade found each other, and in 2021 Cascade integrated into Total Design.

Olga: ‘That wasn’t surprising. Total Design’s DNA has always been there at Cascade. For me, it felt like coming home, and my team was also proud to join Total Design.’

Shortly after, Total Design including Cascade was acquired by Belgium based M80 and became part of the Yuma Group with several IT companies that only lacked the knowledge and expertise of design. This was equally true for annual reports and reporting.

Olga: ‘The merger with Total Design went remarkably smoothly. Partly due to the acquisition of Domani from The Hague, we have grown strongly. We have a fantastic team, partly with new people, and financially TD Cascade is very healthy. My successor has the right qualities for the new course and I therefore hand over the baton to him with confidence.’

From 1 April, Marc Hilhorst will be TD Cascade’s new Managing Director. With a background at Vodafone in Singapore and Qatar and recently in building and growing an e-commerce business, he brings a unique blend of corporate experience and entrepreneurship.

Marc: ‘I learnt and enjoyed a lot within the international corporate world, but at some point entrepreneurship still attracted me. It’s nice to be part of a larger group again with TD Cascade now, but also to continue being an entrepreneur.’

Internationalisation occupies a central place in Yuma’s strategy. That means the Benelux, Germany and France in particular. In this, Total Design and TD Cascade can each make their own contribution. TD Cascade especially in the field of information design and reporting. By adding value through good design and by further leveraging technology and strategic partnerships to serve clients even better with integrated and innovative solutions.

Marc: ‘There are enormous challenges ahead. Developments are happening fast and more and more responsibilities are being placed on businesses by politics and society. In addition, AI will have a major impact on the way we work. Under the banner of Yuma, TD Cascade also wants to take a pioneering role in this. It has always had that pioneering role. In doing so, Olga leaves behind a great team spirit. I am enormously grateful to her and the team for that’.

For more information, please contact Marc Hilhorst.

Award voor jaarverslag Umicore

Award voor jaarverslag Umicore

Het Belgisch Instituut van Bedrijfsrevisoren (IBR-IRE) zet jaarlijks Belgische organisaties of organisaties die actief zijn in België in de spotlights die transparant en helder communiceren over hun prestaties op het vlak van milieu, maatschappij en goed bestuur (de “ESG-criteria”).

Dit jaar werd de prijs voor het beste duurzaamheidsverslag in de categorie beursgenoteerde bedrijven uitgereikt aan Umicore na een verpletterende overwinning met 75% van alle stemmen uitgebracht door professionals en vakgenoten.
De jury prees het verslag van Umicore voor zijn duidelijkheid, waardoor het gemakkelijk te begrijpen is voor mensen die niet vertrouwd zijn met deze complexe ESG-aangelegenheden. Het verslag van Umicore werd ook geprezen voor zijn inspanningen op het vlak van transparantie en communicatiestrategie. De jury waardeerde de leesbaarheid en de originele structuur van het verslag van Umicore.

Als wereldleider in circulaire materiaaltechnologie en recyclage – met meer dan 11 500 werknemers en verspreid over 12 landen op 3 continenten – heeft Umicore een voorbeeldfunctie op het vlak van duurzaamheidsprestaties.
Duurzame waarde creëren is de overkoepelende strategische ambitie van Umicore. Met hun “Let’s go for zero”-aanpak staat Umicore al jaren aan de spits van ESG. Duurzaamheid zit in hun DNA. Geïntegreerde rapportering wordt beschouwd als de sleutel voor Umicore.


TD Cascade is al 2 jaar de reportingpartner van Umicore. Naast ontwerp – met een bijzondere focus op informatieontwerp om complexe gegevens te vertalen in slimme visuele verhalen – ondersteunt TD Cascade Umicore met het beheer van haar interne productieproces.

We zijn dan ook erg trots om deel uit te maken van dit inspirerende project van Umicore. Proficiat aan iedereen die betrokken is bij TD Cascade en Umicore!

Voor het werk, kijk op:

EU Taxonomie

Kort voor de zomer van 2021 stelde de Europese Unie nieuwe regelgeving vast om te bepalen of investeringen van bedrijven en financiële instellingen ‘groen’ zijn. Bedrijven en organisaties die onder deze regelgeving vallen, zullen vanaf 2022 hun investeringen moeten toelichten en verantwoorden.

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