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HKICPA refocuses its annual Awards to recognize organizations integrating CG & ESG practices and highlights findings of brief research on ESG assurance of Hang Seng Index companies

12 July 2021

(HONG KONG, 12 July 2021) With the increasing demand for ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) information by investors pursuing long-term investment in sustainable and socially responsible companies, as well as other stakeholders, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) is pleased to be launching the Best Corporate Governance and ESG Awards. Previously known as the Best Corporate Governance Awards, they were first organized in 2000 and, since then, have become among Hong Kong’s most prestigious and sought-after awards.

 

The Institute is now inviting listed companies and public sector / not-for-profit organizations to enter the 2021 Awards by 9 August 2021.

 

“The Awards have been renamed and refocused this year to reflect the increasing importance of ESG reporting, and to encourage companies and organizations to integrate the oversight and implementation of their corporate governance (CG) and ESG, as well as uplift the standards of disclosure and practices in both areas, “said Mr. Raymond Cheng, President of HKICPA and Chairman of Judging Panel of Best CG & ESG Awards 2021.

 

“We hold the view that, in the final analysis, you can’t have good corporate governance without good ESG, and you can’t have good ESG without having a good CG structure in place”, adds Mr. Cheng.

 

“The judges of the Awards have recommended that companies develop clear ESG strategies and objectives from the top down, as well as undertaking ongoing benchmarking with key performance indicators (KPIs) and concrete targets to monitor how they are performing in terms of ESG,” explained Mr. Patrick Rozario, Chairman of the Review Panel of the BCG & ESG Awards 2021.

 

“The top accolades in this year’s Awards for will be for the Most Sustainable Companies / Organizations. These will be presented to listed companies and public sector/ not-for-profit organizations that demonstrate excellence in both CG and ESG practices, with equal weight being allocated to these two areas, as they move towards fuller integration of these two key aspects of reporting,” said Ms. Loren Tang, Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Best CG & ESG Awards 2021. 

 

“Companies and organizations that can integrate their CG and ESG practices and reporting from the perspectives of, e.g., organizational structure, risk management and internal control, and the shareholder/ stakeholder communication and engagement, are more likely to enjoy a long-term sustainable future,” she explained.

 

In December 2019, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) released an enhancement of the Environmental Social and Governance Reporting Guide under the Listing Rules to strengthen the leadership role and accountability of company boards in relation to ESG reporting, as well as requiring more specific KPIs to be reported in both the environmental and social aspects of ESG.  The enhanced guide has taken effect for companies with financial years commencing on or after 1 July 2020.

 

The HKEX’s upgraded ESG Reporting Guide also notes that companies may seek independent assurance to strengthen the credibility of ESG information. In this regard, as one of the key action items in its Strategic Plan 2020-2022, the HKICPA has recently published guidance on ESG Assurance Reporting to assist members in performing assurance engagements on ESG information. The Institute aims to support members in providing independent, standards- based ESG assurance to address the needs of capital markets and serve the public interest.

 

“As the market demands more accurate and reliable ESG information from companies, assurance on ESG reports will become increasingly important in helping to build stakeholders’ trust in the quality of the information disclosed,” said Mr. Cheng.

 

To better gauge current practice, the Institute has recently initiated a brief research on the ESG assurance status of all 55 Hang Seng Index constituent companies, which published their sustainability/ ESG report or incorporated a sustainability/ ESG section in their annual report for 2020/21, as at 28 June. While 49 of them published this ESG information by the cut-off date, 23 out of 49 companies also sought external assurance on the information disclosed.

 

The Institute is glad to see a majority of the assurance obtained refers to ISAE 3000 (Revised), which is an international standard issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board for assurance engagements other than audits or reviews of historical financial information. This HKICPA’s guidance on ESG assurance is based on ISAE 3000 (Revised), which has been adopted and issued by the HKICPA as a local standard. 

 

“Reference to ISAE 3000 (Revised) shows that the companies concerned have made positive efforts to obtain assurance on their non-financial information disclosure, beyond the traditional financial statement audit. In addition, over half of the Hang Seng Index companies with assurance during the relevant period engaged an independent assurer that was not the regular auditor of their financial statements. This adds to the independence of their ESG assurance,” said Mr. Rozario.

 

“We will be conducting a similar research on all the December year-ended listed companies for 2020/21, and will share the finding with our members and the public in due course,” he supplemented.

 

Companies and organizations will continue to be judged in seven main categories, including categories for HSI companies, and other listed companies based on market capitalization, and public sector organizations based on revenue. The judging criteria look beyond the minimum statutory and regulatory requirements to identify voluntary disclosures and practices.


The revamped Awards are supported by media sponsors including Hong Kong Economic Times, The Standard and ET Net. For more details of the Awards, please visit: 
https://www.hkicpa.org.hk/BCGESGA

 

 

         

香港會計師公會重新命名年度大獎鼓勵融合實踐企管與ESG

簡單調查了解恒指成份股的ESG鑒證狀況

香港,二零二一年七月十二日投資者作長遠投資時,愈來愈重視投資對象的可持續發展及是否履行社會責任,他們及其持份者對環境、社會及管治(ESG)資訊的需求亦有所增加。有見及此,香港會計師公會欣然舉辦「最佳企業管治及ESG大獎」(前為於二零零零年成立的「最佳企業管治大獎」)。多年來,大獎已成為香港最受推崇及歡迎的獎項之一,二零二一年度的獎項現接受報名,歡迎上市公司、公營及非牟利機構參與,截止日期為二零二一年八月九日。

香港會計師公會會長兼「最佳企業管治ESG大獎2021」評審團主席鄭中正先生說:「本年度公會特意將大獎修訂及重新命名,更切實反映ESG報告日益重要,並鼓勵公司及機構融合管理及實踐企業管治與ESG事務,提升這兩個範的披露及實務水平。」

鄭先生補充道:「我們認為,歸根結底,ESG做得好才能達到完善的企業管治,而缺乏優良的企業管治架構,也難以實踐良好的ESG實務。」

「最佳企業管治ESG大獎2021」遴選委員會主席羅柏達先生表示:「大獎評審團建議,公司要由上而下制訂明確的ESG策略及目的,並透過關鍵績效指標及具體目標持續監察實行的進度。」

「最佳企業管治及ESG大獎2021」籌委會主席鄧苑儀女士表示:「本年度大獎的最高榮譽『最佳可持續發展公司/機構獎』,將對參選者的企業管治與ESG兩個範作相同比重的評分,以表揚能綜合管理兩者兼具卓越表現及匯報的上市公、公營及非牟利機構。」

鄧女士說:「若公司及機構從組織架構、風險管理及內部監控,以及股東持份者溝通及聯繫的層面融合企業管治及ESG實務及匯報,他們將擁有較佳條件實現長遠可持續發展。

香港交易及結算所有限公司港交所於二零一九年十二月提升了上市規則的《ESG報告指引》要求,增強董事會對ESG報告的領導角色及問責,並規定在環境、社會方面訂立更具體的關鍵績效指標。相關修訂於發行人在二零二零年七月一日或之後的財務年度生效。

港交所新修訂的《ESG報告指引》亦鼓勵發行人尋求獨立鑒證,以加強ESG資訊的公信力。為此,公會近期刊發了一份有關ESG鑒證報告的指南,協助從業員執行ESG資訊鑒證工作,這亦是公會《策略計劃2020-2022》其中一個重要工作項目。公會積極支援會員按相關準則執行獨立的ESG鑑證工作,以滿足資本市場的需求、維公眾利益。

鄭先生說:「市場期望企業披露更準確可靠的ESG資訊,而ESG報告鑒證更是企業增強持份者對ESG資訊信心的關鍵。」

為了解現況,公會最近亦進行了一項簡單調查,了解恒生指數全部55隻成份股的ESG資訊鑒證狀況。截至六月二十八日,當中共有49家公司刊發了獨立可持續發展ESG報告或將ESG內容納入其二零二零二一年年報,其中的23家有就ESG資訊尋求外部鑒證。

公會樂見大部分鑒證採用了《International Standard on Assurance Engagements》第3000號(經修訂)ISAE 3000,由國際審計與鑒證準則理事會就審計或審閱歷史財務資料以外的鑒證工作所頒佈的國則)。公會先前已採納ISAE 3000並頒佈為本港準則,同時以該準則為基礎編製上述ESG鑒證報告指南。

羅先生表示:「這些公司參考ISAE 3000準則,反映它們積極在傳統財務報表審計外為非財務披露尋求鑒證。另一方面,調查涵蓋的期間,超過一半已尋求ESG鑒證的恒生指數成份股公司,聘用了財務報表核數師以外的獨立鑒證人,令ESG鑒證更具獨立性。」

羅先生補充說:「我們將會對二零二零二一年度十二月年結的上市公司進行另一次相類的調查,並在適當時候與會員及公眾分享調查結果。」

大獎將繼按七個評選組別的公司及機進行評審,包恒指成份股公司、按市值分類的上市公司,以及按收入規分類的公營機構。大獎的評選特別注重優於最低法定及監管要求的自願披露及實務。

經修訂的大獎的傳媒合作夥伴包括香港經濟日報、英文虎報及經濟通。有關大獎的詳情,請瀏覽https://www.hkicpa.org.hk/BCGESGA

 

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