Sias outlines plans to better serve investors

SINGAPORE – Investors need sound information and guidance to navigate their way in a constantly changing world, and it is a task that the Securities Investors Association Singapore (Sias) hopes to fulfil.

Ways include ensuring companies consider their responsibility towards the environment, developing digital tools to engage the younger generation and progressing investor rights, said its president and chief executive David Gerald.

Outlining the plans at the group’s 20th anniversary dinner and award presentation on Thursday (Sept 26), where Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat was guest-of-honour, Mr Gerald said that Sias aims to remain relevant by staying ahead of investor trends.

These include an all-time high investor interest in corporate sustainability and the changing ways which millennials consume information.

He said: “Investor interests globally on environmental, social and governance issues have finally reached a tipping point.”

Sias will do more by asking companies more questions on sustainability and help shareholders understand sustainability reports, said Mr Gerald, who founded Sias.

“Sustainability reporting should be an integral part of the annual report and no longer be a side show,” he said.

Sias is also looking to develop digital tools to reach a younger generation of investors.

Mr Gerald said: “We also plan to restart equity research on companies much needed by retail investors.”

Some 200,000 retail investors have benefited from the 1,400 investor education programmes – from basic investment seminars to certificate courses – organised by Sias since it started in 1999, he noted, adding that most of the programmes were free.

Sias will also aim to be more proactive in its interactions with companies, Mr Gerald said.

“We will commence by engaging companies to publish their responses to our questions on the annual report and track companies conducting corporate actions, for example general offers and delisting, to ensure that rights of minority shareholders are advanced.”

Singapore Press Holdings won the Singapore Corporate Governance Award in the Diversity category at the Sias 20th Investors’ Choice Awards on Thursday.

The award recognises companies that have achieved high standards of corporate governance practices and supported various aspects of board diversity such as gender balance, experience and the background of its directors.

Five journalists, including Senior Correspondent Joyce Lim from The Straits Times, also bagged awards for excellence in financial reporting.

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