Short study: Corporate purpose in financial communication

The concept of corporate purpose is becoming increasingly important in corporate communications. However, it is still unclear to what extent corporate purpose is also used in financial communication.

The following brief study examines the extent to which corporate purpose is addressed in the letters to shareholders of DAX 40 companies.

By Kim Brückner, Judith Funke, Valentin Hausmann, Sina Huneke, Marie Henny Prien and Christian Hoffmann.

Key findings

  • Only 13 of the 19 DAX 40 companies that communicate a purpose externally also use it in their letters to shareholders.
  • Hardly any literal mention of the corporate purpose in the letters to shareholders: Only one of the 19 DAX 40 companies analyzed mentions the purpose verbatim in the letter to shareholders.
    12 other companies incorporate central elements of the corporate purpose into statements in the letter to shareholders.
  • The corporate purpose as a narrative for communicating immaterial values: The content of the purpose is particularly evident as a narrative for communicating immaterial values.
  • Sustainability as a central topic in the context of the corporate purpose: Despite the broad distribution of key topics, the DAX 40 companies address the topic of sustainable transformation particularly frequently.
  • Hardly any link between corporate purpose and financial information: Only two shareholder letters also link corporate purpose to financial information.