Encourage firms to adopt more holistic reporting framework

It is heartening to read that corporate responsibility reporting has taken off in Singapore (Few S'pore firms see climate change as financial risk: Poll; Dec 22).

This can be taken further by encouraging businesses to adopt a more holistic reporting framework that embraces and integrates the environmental, social and governance (ESG) trident of considerations through ESG reporting, of which corporate responsibility reporting is a subset.

This kind of reporting could also let firms reframe and appreciate the financial risk and attendant costs of climate change.

The incentives for adopting ESG reporting are many. With increasing connectivity and accessibility of big data analytics, it is now easier to measure and internalise these considerations into business practices.

Hence, investors - ESG-sensitive millennial investors included - and regulators increasingly expect businesses to dive into ESG factors that impact their businesses and vice versa to help de-risk, diversify and enhance shareholder returns and corporate governance.

Investment research, moreover, suggests that integrating ESG considerations into businesses yields financial returns.

Meaningful shareholder engagement with executive teams on ESG considerations has also been shown to help drive positive outcomes and deliver above-normal shareholder returns.

As Singapore increases in status and stature as a global hub for finance, it behoves us to constantly innovate and enhance the financial reporting standards of our businesses to be in alignment with international best practices.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2017, with the headline 'Encourage firms to adopt more holistic reporting framework'. Print Edition | Subscribe