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ESG Disclosures in Asia Pacific

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Overview

An overview of ESG disclosure regimes in seven Asia-Pacific markets: Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. We show recent trends in ESG disclosures and provide recommendations for regulators, issuers and investors.

Our Position

Meaningful, accurate, timely and comprehensive disclosures of material ESG factors by listed companies are essential for financial professionals as part of their analytical and investment decision-making process. Regulators and exchanges should aim to develop ESG disclosure regimes that result in high quality, consistent and comparable disclosures in their markets.

Main Points

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Volume of ESG disclosures in APAC increases, but quality lags
  • Solid ESG disclosure practices usually take time to develop, but fast progress is possible
  • Disclosure regimes differ widely, in level of obligation, specificity and coverage
  • Reporting obligations follow “race to the top” pattern of tightening, from voluntary, to “comply-or-explain”, to mandatory.
  • Reporting obligations of large companies tend to be stricter and broader than those of smaller ones
  • Governance issues used to dominate, now environmental issues are coming to the forefront
  • Global frameworks are used by some regulators, but the number of different ones adds confusion

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

For governments, regulators, and stock exchanges

  • Ensure meaningful, accurate, timely, and comprehensive disclosures
  • Work toward harmonisation of global frameworks
  • Articulate benefits of ESG disclosures to issuers
  • Offer guidance and training

For issuers

  • Educate the board and senior executives on relationship of ESG to strategy and risk management and on the importance of ESG reporting
  • Ensure disclosures of relevant and material ESG information

For asset owners and investment managers

  • Demand high quality ESG information from issuers
  • Articulate the effect of material ESG information on company valuation

About the Author(s)

Piotr Zembrowski CFA

Piotr Zembrowski, CFA, is manager, advocacy research and content, Asia Pacific Advocacy & Policy Outreach, at CFA Institute. He conducts research into financial regulation, to support the advocacy team's development and promotion of capital markets policy perspectives in Asia Pacific. He is also responsible for content management and editorial aspects of Asia-Pacific Research Exchange (ARX), an online research-publishing platform. Piotr has four years of experience as a financial journalist in Hong Kong, covering asset management, fintech and ESG, among other topics. Previously, he worked at TD Bank in Canada, where he was responsible for development of online and mobile banking and investing platforms. Piotr has a Master of Science degree in astronomy from University of Toronto and a Master of Journalism degree from the University of Hong Kong. He earned his CFA charter in 2006.

Mary Leung CFA

Mary Leung, CFA, is the head, standards and advocacy, Asia Pacific, at CFA Institute. She is responsible for the development, maintenance, and promotion of capital markets policy perspectives in the APAC region. She also oversees the promotion and development of CFA Institute professional standards in the region. Mary has over 20 years of experience in the global financial industry, having worked in corporate finance, wealth management advisory, and fund management. Previously, she was with Coutts & Co, where she was director of Business Development and Management for North Asia. Prior to that she was executive director at UBS AG, where she led the Corporate Advisory Group in Hong Kong. With experience in both the buy- and sell-sides, Mary has a strong understanding of the drivers and dynamics of different investor groups, including institutional investors, corporates, family offices, asset owners, and high-net-worth individuals. Mary graduated from Peterhouse, Cambridge with a degree in Engineering. She is a CFA charterholder and speaks English, Putonghua, and Cantonese.

Kurt Schacht
Kurt Schacht JD, CFA

Kurt N. Schacht, JD, CFA, is Head of Advocacy for CFA Institute. He is responsible for all aspects of policy advocacy, regulatory affairs and legislative outreach, focused on advancing investor protection, financial market transparency and fairness. Kurt serves on a range of stakeholder advisory groups engaged on investment management policy issues and was the former chair of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee.

Prior to joining CFA Institute Kurt served as Chairman of the Investor Advisory Committee for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He has been involved in the investment management business since 1990, serving as chief operating officer for a retail mutual complex in White Plains, NY, general Counsel and COO for a Manhattan based hedge fund, and as chief legal officer for the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) in Madison, WI.