All-time high SGTI results highlight improvements in corporate governance disclosures and practices
Singapore-listed companies charted a new record in governance and transparency this year, reflecting their strong commitment to improving corporate governance and sustainability disclosures.
The Singapore Governance and Transparency Index (SGTI) 2020 surged to an all-time high score of 67.9 points, compared with 59.3 last year.
The annual SGTI assesses companies on their corporate governance disclosure and practices, as well as the timeliness, accessibility and transparency of their financial results announcements. It is published annually by CPA Australia, NUS Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) and Singapore Institute of Directors (SID).
This year’s index ranked a total of 577 Singapore-listed companies in the General category, and 45 Trusts in the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and Business Trust category. These companies and trusts released their annual reports by 30 June 2020.
SATS emerged at the top of the General Category with 131 points. SingTel, which had led the index for five consecutive years, slipped to the second position with 128 points. CapitaLand Commercial Trust remained top of the REIT and Business Trust Category.
While most of the top 10 saw slight dips in their rankings, SATS, City Developments, and Keppel Corporation improved. Another company which made notable improvements is SingPost, jumping up 20 places to 12th this year.
In the REIT and Business Trust Category, CapitaLand continued its dominance, with its subsidiaries CapitaLand Commercial Trust, CapitaLand Mall Trust and Ascott Residence Trust in the top three positions. Netlink NBN Trust, Cromwell European REIT, Manulife US REIT and OUE Commercial REIT each jumped over 20 spots to enter the top 10.
Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of CGIO, NUS Business School said: “It is heartening that the assessment process of listed companies for SGTI 2020 was not significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The necessary disclosures by companies were largely made well and on time, in line with Singapore Exchange Regulation’s stipulation. On an even brighter note, companies have achieved remarkable progress as seen in the all-time high of the index score – this reflects the strong momentum driven by the ongoing regulation enhancements.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a generational crisis currently faced by organisations today and comes on top of global trade and political tensions, technological disruptions, and increasing cyber threats. In times of crisis, strong leadership and sound corporate governance processes are fundamental to a company’s ability to survive and position itself to thrive in the recovery that is to come. Corporate governance frameworks and processes have to adapt, and remain relevant and effective in a COVID-19 new normal,” said Mr Chng Lay Chew, Singapore Divisional President, CPA Australia.
Significant improvement in corporate governance disclosures
Overall, companies fared better in corporate governance disclosures compared to 2019. This is measured in terms of base scores, bonuses and penalties.
For the General category, companies recorded an average score of 67.9, an increase of 8.6 points year-on-year. Mean scores have been improving consistently since 2011, with the largest jump recorded this year.
Companies were awarded an average of 11.6 bonus points this year, compared to 8.6 in 2019. Bonuses are awarded for good practices such as producing an annual sustainability report and providing comprehensive disclosures of shareholders’ rights.
Fewer penalties were meted out this year, falling 2.4 points to 8.4 this year. Penalty items reflect issues that are indicative of poor corporate governance. They are assigned on a company-specific basis and are usually event-triggered.
In the REIT and Business Trust Category, the mean overall score increased by 6.2 points year-on-year to 84.8. Bonuses increased by 3.2 points to 17.2, while penalties decreased by 0.2 points to 5.0.
“It is encouraging to note the improving trend of overall scores and accompanying greater accountability and transparency in disclosures. The global pandemic has renewed focus on sustainability reporting and on taking a long-term view. As companies reassess their business models and strategic outlook, this is an opportune time to recalibrate and emerge stronger from the crisis,” said Mr Tham Sai Choy, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of Directors.
Annex 1: SGTI 2020 General Category Top 20 Results
Annex 2: SGTI 2020 REIT and Business Trust Category Top 10 Results
Annex 3: SGTI General Category mean scores trend (2009 – 2020)
Annex 4: SGTI REIT and Business Trust Category mean scores trend (2017 – 2020)
About the SGTI methodology