Are Female CFOs Better at Improving Readability of the Annual Reports?

51 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2014 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014

See all articles by Y. Han (Andy) Kim

Y. Han (Andy) Kim

Sungkyunkwan University

Sung Gon Chung

Wayne State University

Date Written: March 14, 2014


Is the degree of “plain English” (or readability) of the annual reports a function of CFO characteristics? Using the hand collected background information of 6,278 unique CFOs in Execucomp firms, combined with BoardEx data and the quantified readability measures of annual reports, we find supporting evidence. Other things being equal, annual reports supervised by female CFOs use less complicated words in the texts and use more detailed numerical presentation in the tables. Switching from male to female CFOs significantly reduce information asymmetry, which may suggest clearer written communication skills of the female CFOs. We also document that readability is affected by other qualifications such as CPA and MBA.

Keywords: Readability, Fog Index, textual analysis, CFO, Financial expertise, gender difference, non-verbal communication

JEL Classification: G14, G18, M41

Suggested Citation

Kim, Y. Han (Andy) and Chung, Sung Gon, Are Female CFOs Better at Improving Readability of the Annual Reports? (March 14, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Y. Han (Andy) Kim (Contact Author)

Sungkyunkwan University ( email )

422 School of Business
25-2 SungKyunKwan-Ro, Jongno-ju
Seoul, 110-745
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
+82-2-760-0622 (Phone)
+82-2-760-0622 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://

Sung Gon Chung

Wayne State University ( email )

5229 Cass
112 Rands House
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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