Speech By Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Former President Of Singapore And Chief Patron Of Securities Investors Association (Singapore) At The Investors’ Choice Awards 2021 Held On Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Date: October 13, 2021

Mr David Gerald
Founder, President and CEO, SIAS

Mr Kwa Chong Seng
Chairman, SGX

Ms Ho Hern Shin, Deputy Managing Director (Financial Supervision), Monetary Authority of Singapore

Mr Daniel Teo
Chairman, SIAS

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for inviting me to this year’s Investors’ Choice Awards.

These awards are given to publicly listed companies that have made significant contributions towards advancing corporate governance, sustainability and annual report transparency.

Congratulations to all recipients of these awards.

Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG considerations are gaining momentum globally in driving investment decisions of not only institutional investors but also socially- and environmentally- conscious retail investors who are increasingly recognising the power of private capital to drive changes in companies’ business models and supply chains.

With the destructive impact of climate changes, deforestation, overfishing and uncontrolled carbon-emissions on our planet’s eco-system, all investors now want to ensure that their investments are channelled to companies that take visible and concrete measures to protect our environment.

Studies have also shown that companies that incorporate ESG considerations in their corporate practices and business models are not only able to improve operational efficiency and lower their costs but are also in a better position to mitigate risks, retain talent as well as capture opportunities and growth.

In the long run this will strengthen business resilience and create long term value for all their stakeholders.

The regulatory landscape has also changed.

Many countries including Singapore have started on regulatory frameworks for sustainability reporting.

For example, in March 2021, the European Union (EU) put into effect the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation or SFDR. Under this regulation, all EU asset managers are required to disclose their approach to incorporating sustainability in their investment decisions.

Furthermore, asset managers are increasingly using their voting powers at Annual General Meetings or through their board representation to ensure that their investors’ money are not greenwashed.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) will also set out roadmaps for mandatory climate-related financial disclosures by financial institutions and listed entities.

Industries have been consulted on making climate-related reporting in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

SGX already subjects listed entities to annual sustainability reporting on a “comply or explain” basis, but without specifying any particular framework for them to follow.

Financial institutions will also be consulted on mandatory climate-related disclosures.

MAS is already expecting all banks, insurers, and asset managers to make climate-related disclosures from June 2022, in accordance with well-regarded international reporting frameworks, such as the TCFD recommendations.

Sustainability factors are increasingly becoming important for Singapore companies to do business and compete locally as well as globally.

Companies with poor ESG records will be less favoured as business partners or vendors.

Therefore, it is to the advantage of Singapore companies to adopt sound and transparent ESG disclosures in their annual reports and to make sure they are not left behind in the global sustainability drive.

Since SIAS was formed 22 years ago, it has always played a leading role not only in advancing the interest of retail investors in Singapore but also actively promoting good corporate governance and transparency in listed companies.

Over the past 18 months in particular, I am pleased to note that SIAS has been directly advancing the interest of shareholders by engaging boards for greater clarity in many restructurings, privatisations and rights issues.

These sessions, I am sure, have greatly helped retail shareholders understand complex proposals and helped them when voting.

I also note that SIAS has added value to the overall governance landscape with its questions to hundreds of companies on their annual reports so that shareholders can better participate at annual general meetings.

I would like to congratulate the winners of SIAS Investors’ Choice Awards, SIAS for continuing to advance corporate governance and especially for incorporating sustainability in this year’s conference as well as in this year’s Singapore Corporate Governance Award ratings.

Do keep well and stay safe everyone.