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Cover story by The Edge wins Financial Story of the Year by Sias

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore • 7 min read
Cover story by The Edge wins Financial Story of the Year by Sias
The Edge Singapore’s assistant editor Jovi Ho (left) and executive editor Goola Warden won for their cover story from Issue 1045, titled “Is your financing really green?” Photos: The Edge Singapore
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A cover story by The Edge Singapore’s executive editor Goola Warden and assistant editor Jovi Ho has been named Financial Story of the Year by the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), or Sias. 

Published in July 2022, the cover story from Issue 1045, titled “Is your financing really green” explored how Singapore’s banks are guarding against greenwashing. A sidebar on how investors can make sense of sustainability reports featured input from research analysts, asset managers and investment bankers.

In the award citation, Sias says the story was based on extensive reporting, multiple interviews with key executives shaping banks’ policies in this area and reinforced by the regulatory perspective of the Singapore Exchange S68 -

(SGX). “With sustainability reporting a requirement, there was, as part of this story, a portion helping investors make sense of such reports so that they can be better informed in their decision-making. You both certainly deserve this prestigious award for your outstanding story in helping the investing community make an informed decision.”

Ho received the award for himself and Warden at Sias’s Investors’ Choice Awards (ICA) on Nov 8, with Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, as guest-of-honour. Also in attendance was former president Tony Tan, chief patron of Sias.

"I can't ask for a more capable, lean and mean team of colleagues at The Edge Singapore," says editor Chan Chao Peh. "Goola is an industry veteran who has been tirelessly bringing market-relevant stories to our readers for more than two decades. She is someone I learn from and look up to for inspiration. Jovi epitomises a new generation of business journalists delivering fresh and relevant insights to our readers. I am grateful to Sias for this award that recognises their positive impact on the wider investing public.”

“I would like to thank our editors Chan Chao Peh and Goola Warden, our team of copyeditors, our CEO Bernard Tong and our colleagues for their support in bringing this story to print,” says Ho. “I look forward to covering the sustainability initiatives of our listcos and I hope my stories can help explain the multi-faceted impacts of the climate crisis.”

See also: Dividend policies, external appraisals for directors still lacking among Singapore listcos: SIAS

New sustainability award

Ho was named Most Promising Journalist of the Year at last year’s awards, which marks its 24th edition this year.

See also: Is your financing really green?

The annual ICA honours SGX-listed companies for corporate governance and transparency. 

This year, Sias launched the Singapore Corporate Sustainability Award (SCSA), a new award category that will recognise sustainability, governance, transparency and communications in listed companies (listcos) for the benefit of investors. 

Nominations were reviewed through a two-tier process, says Sias. The judging committee, comprising the research team from NUS Centre for Governance & Sustainability (CGS) and an independent selection of committee members from professional bodies and media, then tabulated their scores based on quantitative and qualitative assessments respectively to determine the winner. 

David Gerald, founder, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Sias, says incorporating robust sustainability frameworks into corporate business models has emerged as the hallmark of success. “Addressing the biggest challenge of our era of climate change has propelled sustainability to the forefront, with investors increasingly prioritising sustainable practices throughout supply chains.”

According to an EY article, companies that perform well on environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices are believed to be less risky, better-positioned for the long-term, and better-prepared for uncertainty, says Gerald in his welcome address at ICA 2023.

“I am sure you will appreciate the importance and timeliness of such an award, given how ESG has risen in prominence in recent years, with more and more investors demanding that companies they are invested in exhibit strong commitment to preserving the environment and good governance whilst ensuring equitable treatment for people of all genders and races,” says Gerald.

Presented in four categories, the winners of the inaugural SCSA are big-caps DBS Group Holdings, Keppel Corporation BN4 -

, United Overseas Bank U11 - (UOB) and Yanlord Land Group Z25 - ; mid-caps China Everbright Water U9E - and SBS Transit; small-caps GSS Energy 41F - and SUTL Enterprise; as well as REITs Mapletree Logistics Trust M44U - and Parkway Life REIT.

See also: How can investors make sense of sustainability reports?

According to Sias’s Singapore corporate governance scoring system, big listcos climbed back to an average score of 69.5% for the year ended Dec 31, 2022 after two years of stable results — 65.7% in 2022 and 65.4% in 2021.

Taken together with mid-caps and small-caps, Singapore’s listcos scored an average of 60.5% this year, up from 55.3% in 2022 and 52.9% in 2021. 

However, this year’s research found that some 94% of listcos did not use external parties to conduct appraisal of their boards and individual directors. This must improve, says Gerald. 

In addition, just 6.3% of listcos released their notice of AGM with detailed agenda and explanatory circulars via bourse filings at least 28 days before the meeting. 

Furthermore, 63.3% of listcos did not disclose their key risks, including operational risks and how these risks were assessed and managed; while slightly more than 3% disclosed that their management committees have not considered linking risk management and remuneration.

On dividends, slightly more than two-thirds of listcos did not disclose a policy on dividend payouts if they have paid dividends for their most recent financial year.  

SBS, DBS, Sembcorp among big winners

In total, 12 individuals and 46 corporates were honoured across seven awards categories at ICA 2023, including the SCSA, Singapore Corporate Governance Award, Investors’ Choice Outstanding CEO Award, Shareholder Communications Excellence Award, Financial Journalist Award, Best Retail Broker Award and Most Transparent Company Award.

The winners of this year's Singapore Corporate Governance Award are DBS, Sembcorp Industries U96 -

, UOB, Centurion Corporation OU8 - , SBS, Avarga, Valuetronics BN2 - Holdings, CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust C38U - (CICT) and Far East Hospitality Trust Q5T - (FEHT).

Avarga’s executive chairman is Tong Kooi Ong, who is also chairman of The Edge Media Group, the parent company of the publisher of The Edge Singapore. Ian Tong, CEO of Avarga, is also an executive director of The Edge Media Group.

“We are very appreciative of the recognition,” says Ian. “At Avarga, we believe that good governance is critical in building a sustainable company, and can only be achieved by its stakeholders having genuinely good intentions.”

In addition, the winners of the Singapore Corporate Governance Award’s “Diversity” category are CapitaLand Investment, ComfortDelGro C52 -

Corporation, Sats and Singapore Telecommunications Z74 - (SingTel).

Meanwhile, the winners of the Investors’ Choice Outstanding CEO Award are Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation’s Helen Wong, CSE Global 544 -

’s Lim Boon Kheng, iFast Corporation’s Lim Chung Chun and CICT’s Tony Tan.

This year’s Shareholder Communications Excellence Award winners are City Developments, ComfortDelGro, SingTel, Centurion, SBS, VICOM, LHN, Micro-Mechanics (Holdings), Qian Hu Corporation BCV -

, FEHT and NetLink NBN Trust.

Maybank Securities, Moomoo Financial Singapore and Tiger Brokers (Singapore) won the Best Retail Broker Award this year.

The Most Transparent Company Award was presented to 25 companies this year: SingTel, Japan Foods, SUTL, Thakral Corporation AWI -

, Delfi, Golden Agri-Resources E5H - , Sheng Siong Group OV8 - , Baker Technology BTP - , China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corporation, Great Eastern Holdings G07 - , Singapore Exchange, The Trendlines Group 42T - , Haw Par Corporation H02 - , Raffles Medical Group BSL - , Civmec P9D - , SBS, China Sunsine Chemical Holdings QES - , New Toyo International Holdings N08 - , Centurion, Far East Orchard O10 - , LHN, Micro-Mechanics (Holdings), Silverlake Axis 5CP - , Valuetronic Holdings and Sembcorp. 

Besides The Edge Singapore’s Warden and Ho, Lianhe Zaobao’s associate business editor Chew Boon Leong also won Financial Story of the Year. 

This year’s Financial Journalist of the Year award was presented to Chor Khieng Yuit, senior correspondent at The Straits Times.

Meanwhile, this year’s Investor Education Journalist of the Year award was presented to Andrea Heng, presenter at CNA 938; and Lee Su Shyan, associate editor at The Straits Times. 

The Business Times’ Yong Jun Yuan and Lianhe Zaobao’s Wee Xiu Hooi were both named Most Promising Journalist of the Year, while CNA programmes Money Mind and Talking Point won the Media Excellence in Community Investor Education and Special Award respectively.

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