ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Roundtable urges firms to reflect international trends to compete globally

An ACCA roundtable has highlighted the need for more companies in Singapore to produce sustainability reports to reflect the rising global trend.

Bringing together leading experts from Singapore and Malaysia's stock exchanges, the legal profession, industry, public practice, CSR and academia, the event followed the announcement by the Singapore Stock Exchange of a new policy urging companies to disclose their sustainability data. Despite a global increase in the number of companies producing sustainability reports - up 29% between 2008 and 2009 - only a small number of firms in Singapore currently do so.

Among the issues discussed by the roundtable were:

  • the benefits of sustainability reporting
  • mandatory versus voluntary sustainability reporting
  • the ways and means of reporting
  • sustainability reporting assurance, and the capacity and capability of businesses to produce meaningful, high-quality sustainability reports.

'It's vital that we understand the importance of producing relevant reports that reflect an organisation's long-term sustainability,' said Erin Lyon, executive director of CSR Asia, who facilitated the roundtable. 'In Singapore, we've got to ensure that we avoid the trap of producing glossy brochures that are little more than marketing if we are to compete globally.'

Darryl Wee, head of ACCA Singapore, added: 'ACCA has been supporting the sustainability agenda for close to two decades. As this agenda grows in importance, we will see an increase in the role of the accountant - expanding beyond the traditional role of producing financial accounts and moving into the field of accounting for a company's holistic, sustainable performance. The roundtable is timely and has tackled some of the challenges of this trend head on.'

A report based on the roundtable is to be published by ACCA and distributed to key stakeholders. The issues discussed will also inform the next edition of ACCA's sustainability reporting guidelines, to be distributed in early 2011.