30 October 2020

ESG Reporting among the ASX300


DAN JONES, Manager Shareholder Analytics


As institutional investors increasingly demand more accountability for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, companies face pressure to improve their standards of ESG reporting. However, unlike financial data, ESG information has no legislated or regulatory reporting guidelines or formats so the mechanism for delivery and any adoption of a reporting standard is at the discretion of the company.

This has created a variety of reporting practices for ASX companies, ranging from those that have not yet commenced ESG Reporting in earnest, to those with integrated ESG-aligned webpages and multiple sites, with data reported in line with one of the major international standards. Within this range, a clear benchmark has emerged for companies to produce a dedicated standalone ESG Report.

With this in mind, FIRST Advisers completed a stocktake of ESG Reporting for ASX300 companies and found that since 2019, approximately 50% of ASX300 companies produced a standalone ESG Report.

For the purposes of this research, a Corporate Governance report (which companies are required to produce) was not considered a standalone ESG Report despite it addressing the governance aspect of ESG. It was considered an ESG report only when elements of Social and Environmental performance were also taken into consideration. (Companies referred to their ESG Report using different terminology, most commonly sustainability or corporate (social) responsibility, which were all considered as achieving this benchmark).

Larger companies responding to shareholders advocating for ESG transparency

Our research indicated larger companies are more likely to produce a standalone ESG Report with more than 80% of ASX100 constituents achieving this, including every member of the ASX20. Of note here is that passive (index) funds and Superannuation funds, which by definition hold a proportionally greater share of top-ranked companies, historically have been among the most prominent advocates for greater ESG transparency.

By comparison, standalone ESG Reports were produced by 47% of Mid-Cap Companies (ASX200 ex-100) and 24% of Small Cap companies (Ex-200). Small-cap companies were also less ESG orientated within their annual report, with 32% having no dedicated ESG/Sustainability section, compared to 23% of Mid-Caps and just 17% of Large-Caps.

GRI is the most widely used ESG Reporting Framework

Globally there are four organisations that are generally acknowledged as setting the standard in ESG Reporting: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB), Task-Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and United Nation Global Compact (UNGC), which encompasses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, there are numerous industry-specific frameworks

Our analysis found 51% of all ASX300 companies reported to at least one of these major frameworks. For Companies that produced a standalone ESG Report, the adoption rate of at least one of these standards was 85%.

GRI was the most widely used framework, as 60% of companies that produced a standalone ESG Report did so with specific mention of it as an adopted methodology. TCFD and UNGC were chosen by 40% and 37% of reporting companies, respectively, while SASB as the newest framework was specifically mentioned by 7% of companies.

Companies are adopting multiple frameworks

60% of companies that produced an ESG report did so with reference to two or more of the major frameworks.

GRI, the most widely adopted framework, was supplemented with another, 58% of the time. Most commonly it was paired with UNCG (25%) and TCFD (22%). All companies that employed SASB also integrated one (or more) of the other frameworks.

GRI, SASB, TCFD and UNGC were more widely adopted by Large-Caps, as 80% of all ASX100 companies, including 92% of those that produced a Standalone ESG Report, referenced at least one of these frameworks. By contrast just over one third (37%) of Ex-100 companies reported in line with at least one of these four standards, however those that produced standalone reports were more likely to reference these frameworks (76%).

In addition to the four major approaches mentioned above, there are numerous frameworks designed for specific industries, or ones that focus on particular elements within ESG. Our research showed about 12% of companies referenced at least one of these other approaches, the most common being International Council of Metals and Mining (ICMM), IPIECA, LBG (London Benchmarking Group), B Corp certification and the United Nations Principals for Responsible Investment.

ESG Reporting led by Environmentally Sensitive Sectors

Sectors often viewed as environmentally sensitive had the highest proportion of standalone ESG Reporters, with more than 60% representation across Energy (69%), Industrials (64%) and Materials (63%).

Sectors where Sustainability has a more dominant influence than Environmental factors were less likely to produce a standalone ESG report, including Consumer Discretionary (33%), Consumer Services (44%), Healthcare (44%) and Financials (49%).

The lowest proportion of standalone ESG Reports was from the Information Technology sector (17%).

Choose your framework carefully

The clear takeout from this analysis is that the first task for companies starting down the ESG reporting path is to thoroughly research the different frameworks including those most commonly adopted by the peer group. It is also important to be open to the possibility that more than one may be the optimal solution in order to effectively address all the issues that need to be reported on. Finally, as new frameworks emerge and gain prominence within the investment community, remain flexible and be open to incorporating or changing the methodology being used.

If companies want to access the capital distributed by fund managers, we are rapidly approaching the point where it is not enough to simply demonstrate that they can be trusted to generate a superior return on that capital. Boards and management teams must also make the case that they are also mindful of the impact their business has on the community, the environment and the future of the planet.

3 June 2024

Investor Targeting and RORI Analysis


SALONI SURI, Shareholder Analytics and Investor Relations An important task within a company’s Investor Relations function is identifying new investors who could become potential shareholders. An analysis of a company’s share register will give an Investor Relations Officer, (IRO), a good snapshot of who their current shareholders are at a single point in time but […]

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30 May 2024

Designs on Annual Reporting


IT IS TIME TO THINK ABOUT ANNUAL REPORTS and then to think again. While an Annual Report must include content required by the Corporations Act and the ASX listing rules, that doesn’t mean we should limit our thinking to just meeting that objective. It is right and proper for the compulsory materials, such as the […]

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30 April 2024

Engaging with Proxy Advisors


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor AGM season may seem a long way off for many ASX listed companies but June and July are prime time for engaging with Proxy Advisors in advance of the peak months of AGM season, between October and November. Proxy advisors play a vital role in helping inform investment […]

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30 April 2024

Institutional Voting at AGM’s and the Value of Vote Tracking


SALONI SURI, Shareholder Analytics and Investor Relations The Scenario We’ve all seen it; a company in the midst of a contentious voting situation at an AGM with management nervously waiting on the final proxy vote count. Less than 48 hours before proxy voting is due to close, a significant portion of the total votes are […]

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27 March 2024

Companies trending to earlier results reporting


NEEL PORWAL, Shareholder Analytics In the evolving landscape of financial reporting, understanding when companies disclose their financial performance can be helpful. We have been monitoring trends in the reporting practices of ASX 300 companies since 2016 to uncover any patterns that might provide relevant insights for investors, analysts, and industry watchers alike. In this review […]

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29 February 2024

Managing Cyber security risks


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Cybersecurity is back at the top of the news agenda. The Albanese Government is seeking to tackle ‘Doxing’, which is publicly revealing identifying material about someone without their consent; the AFP has helped to smash global ransomware gang Lockbit and the hacker claimed to behind the massive Medibank […]

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29 February 2024

PERCEPTION STUDIES SUPERCHARGE INVESTOR RELATIONS


BEN REBBECK, Executive Director IR teams put a lot of work into communicating their company’s investment case, so it is important to assess if this investment case is being understood and valued by investors. One of the best ways to do this is through third-party perception research. Showing that a company’s investment case is being […]

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28 February 2024

Key Issues for Proxy Advisors in 2024


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor An analysis of data collected by Proxy Advisory firm Glass Lewis on voting outcomes during the 2023 Australian AGM season reveals a record number of companies received strikes against their remuneration reports, there was a significant increase in the number and severity of dissenting votes against Directors and […]

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31 January 2024

Maximising access to the capital markets


VICTORIA GEDDES, Investor Relations It is hard to find consensus on to what extent the Australian capital markets will be open for IPOs and secondary raisings in 2024. There does, however, seem to be a view that there are likely to be positive factors that will help to mitigate the uncertainty that stymied access to […]

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29 November 2023

Winds of change – AASB draft climate standards


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor “The biggest change to corporate reporting in a generation.”, is how the Australian Institute of Company Directors has described the Australian Governments ambitions to make climate-related disclosures mandatory for large businesses and financial institutions. Civil penalties planned to ensure climate reporting compliance The Government’s target is to have […]

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29 November 2023

2023 a year of headwinds, inflation, and continued rate hikes


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor It was in early May of 2023 that the World health organization announced Covid-19 was no longer a global health emergency. We are, however, still working through the economic disruption caused by COVID, compounded by other significant geo-political events, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, which has helped to […]

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3 November 2023

White Paper on Australia/NZ ESG Reporting Practices in 2023


VICTORIA GEDDES, Investor Relations For the past 3 years FIRST Advisers has been tracking Australian companies preparedness for the task of reporting on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). This was in response to the obvious momentum that was building globally around the impact of climate change as well as growing evidence attributing superior performance […]

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2 November 2023

Same Day Reporting Hits 8 Year High


SALONI SURI, Shareholder Analytics For several years, First Advisers has been tracking trends in Same Day Reporting by ASX300 companies, which we define as releasing an Annual Report and Financial Results on the same day. The practice of providing an Annual Report on the same day as a companies’ results has become a KPI for […]

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28 September 2023

Key trends leading into the 2023 AGM Season


TOM WARNER, Shareholder Analytics & Engagement As we head into AGM season, the trends that emerged in 2022 look set to stay in 2023, with investors and proxy advisers continuing to focus on Remuneration, Climate Change, Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) issues and Board Composition. Remuneration Reports In 2021, 27 companies (9% of the ASX300) […]

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28 September 2023

Proxy Management and the Value of Vote Tracking


TOM WARNER, Shareholder Analytics & Engagement Over the past few years, there has been a substantial shift in the number of investor stewardship codes which have called for investors to become more active owners. Stewardship codes typically provide a blueprint on how investors can encourage companies to incorporate and maintain good corporate governance, including adopting […]

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5 September 2023

Approach to Guidance in 2023 and Same Day reporting


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Over the past four months we have monitored companies in the ASX 300 Index reporting their full year results. Around 70% of companies in the S&P/ASX 300 index released their results for FY23 during August 2023. Companies return to providing guidance The majority of companies (81%) reporting their full year results this year […]

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4 September 2023

Can ESG survive the political pushback?


BEN REBBECK, Executive Director Over the last 18 months institutional investors have been struggling to grasp two conflicting forces which, if not managed well, could cause significant ramifications for how listed companies engage with and access capital. Investors desires to embed ESG standards and principles in their disclosure are in opposition to ‘anti-woke’ regulations which […]

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27 July 2023

The final countdown to adoption of ISSB climate related disclosures in Australia


TOM WARNER, Shareholder Analytics & Engagement On 26 June 2023, following a year and a half of intensive consultation, the International Sustainability Standards Boards (ISSB) released its first two Sustainability Disclosure Standards: IFRS S1 and IFRS S2. FIRST Advisers wrote about the new standards in our ISSB Releases Inaugural Global Sustainability Disclosure Standards blog on […]

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27 July 2023

SEC decision makes APAC companies’ access to US Institutions more difficult


BEN REBBECK, Executive Director This month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) let expire a long-standing ‘no-action’ letter regarding the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (“MiFID II”) provisions relating to research. This action by the SEC is set to further increase the challenges Australian and Southeast Asian companies face in […]

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30 June 2023

The emergence of AI in Investor Relations


BEN REBBECK, Executive Director The use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Investor Relations has the potential to revolutionise communication with institutional and retail investors, by streamlining processes, enhancing decision-making capabilities, and ultimately optimising Investor Relations (IR) outcomes. However, before considering the impact of AI on IR, it is crucial to reflect on the role […]

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30 June 2023

ISSB releases Inaugural Global Sustainability Disclosure Standards


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director On 26 June 2023, the ISSB (International Sustainability Standards Board) issued its inaugural standards – IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 – after 18 months of intensive consultation and research. Over the past five years, sustainability factors have become increasingly mainstream in investment decision making and they are central to how companies […]

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29 May 2023

Using ASX Guidance Note 8 to Manage Earnings Surprises


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations Companies with a June year-end are entering a busy time, as they prepare to report their full year earnings. In parallel, the market is constantly forming a view of what those earnings will be. Consequently, there may be a need for a company to take action if the market’s expectations of […]

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27 April 2023

How to identify which retail brokers are trading my company’s shares


SALONI SURI, Shareholder Analytics An important question many IR professionals ask is – who are the owners of their company’s shares, and who is trading those shares? Using Beneficial ownership analysis, we can help identify the investors that hold a company’s shares. However, when it comes to trading by retail shareholders, identifying the brokers who […]

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26 April 2023

Trends in Activism*


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Until recently Australia was consistently ranked second behind the US in terms of the number of activist campaigns launched each year. Up until 2018 the number of companies subject to activist demands would average around 65, a number that rocketed to just over 80 in 2018 and 2019. Over the past […]

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30 March 2023

TCFD’s place in the ESG Continuum


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations As the investment community increasingly uses ESG information, there has been growing pressure for ESG frameworks and standards to evolve. The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is currently finalising a requirement for companies to report on their climate-related risks and opportunities, with a decision expected in June 2023. The Task Force […]

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1 March 2023

Financial Reporting post COVID


ADITYAN ANIL, Shareholder Analytics A key event in any company’s IR Calendar is the reporting of their financial results. This occurs twice a year and requires all ASX listed companies to publish financial results that cover a six- and twelve-month timeframe. The ASX Listing Rules give companies discretion on when they choose to publish their […]

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28 February 2023

CEOs need to drive social change to build trust


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media The findings of 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer were revealed at Davos in January, with the Australian cut of the data made public at the start of February. The Edelman global survey highlights concern around “severe polarisation” among respondents, which the PR firm interprets as people believing their society is […]

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31 January 2023

‘Pass-Through’ proxy voting


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Pass-through proxy voting gives investors of index and other passively managed funds the opportunity to vote the shares they hold at company meetings. Until recently, the fund manager would vote on behalf of their underlying investors in accordance with the voting guidelines for the fund they managed. The ability […]

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12 December 2022

Travelling at the speed of change, 2022 in review


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media US founding father, Benjamin Franklin, said “nothing is certain except death and taxes”. Had he been in a more expansive mood he may have included ‘change’ as another certainty. 2022 has been a year of change. We welcomed Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee and mourned her passing. We celebrated the […]

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12 December 2022

ASX bares teeth on timing of Periodic Reports


RON CAMERON, Investor Relations During November, the ASX released a compliance update that contained information on a strict new enforcement regime around the timing of periodic reports. Get it wrong and a listed company faces automatic suspension. The update also called out inappropriate use of the Markets Announcement Platform and how that may lead to […]

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28 October 2022

Proxy Advisor Voting Guidelines on Virtual AGMs, Board Diversity and ESG


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director It’s AGM season and many companies will be talking with shareholders about the resolutions they are being asked to vote on. Most fund managers engage proxy advisors to either help them manage the voting process or, more commonly, to access their recommendations as part of their own general due diligence. The […]

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28 October 2022

Is the two-strike rule back in vogue?


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations With the 2022 reporting season behind us, many companies have shifted their attention to planning the Annual General Meeting (AGM). One piece of the meeting that all companies need to navigate is securing the requisite 75% of shareholder votes for the Remuneration Report. Voting on the Remuneration Report is watched closely […]

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3 October 2022

FIRST Advisers FY23 Guidance Report


SALONI SURI, Shareholder Analytics During August we monitored companies in the ASX300 Index that reported for the period ending 30 June 2022 (FY22). Around 80% of companies in the S&P/ASX 300 index released their results during August 2022, with large companies particularly well represented.  This enabled us to build a representative picture of the approach […]

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2 October 2022

ESG and the AGM Season


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations As we go into AGM season, the spotlight has again been shone on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters and the need for companies to demonstrate how they are improving their performance on these issues. HESTA, one of Australia’s largest investors, has written to all Chairs and CEOs of ASX300 companies […]

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30 August 2022

Corporate access in the new norm


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Adviser The COVID-19 pandemic effectively eliminated in person Investor Relations (IR) meetings and events and accelerated the adoption and refinement of virtual interactions between companies and the investment community. Now, with travel restrictions removed or significantly eased and the WHO reporting global COVID cases falling 9% and deaths 15%, […]

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30 August 2022

Accessing new media opportunities


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Adviser It is well understood that the media industry has been experiencing significant technological disruption with the emergence of digital, online and social media platforms. The recent 2022 Digital News Report, by the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford, indicates the various shocks of the last few years, […]

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1 August 2022

Do you need Purpose?


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director The importance of the role of Corporate Purpose has been gaining momentum globally since 2019, sparked in Australia by the release of the 4th edition of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. In its Principle 1, ASX noted that the Board of a listed entity should be responsible under its […]

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1 August 2022

Building your ESG Credibility


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations A company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance continues to grow in importance for investors. The challenge for companies is to develop ESG reporting metrics that reflect the specific ESG issues impacting their business, while also allowing for their performance to be measured against peers. An additional layer of complexity within […]

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29 June 2022

Evaluating Your IR Program


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations As we enter a new financial year, it is worth reflecting on the effectiveness of your Company’s IR program. This was a topic at the 2022 National Investor Relations Institute’s (NIRI) Conference held in Boston. FIRST Advisers attended the conference in June and we summarise some of the key recommendations. Recommendation […]

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29 June 2022

Perspectives on ESG from the USA


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director This year the headline topics at the NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute) Conference were ESG and the importance of Purpose. The US has, like Australia, been generally late to the ESG party compared to Europe so understanding the issues at the forefront of driving change has relevance for Australia. Ron O’Hanly Chairman and […]

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30 May 2022

Shareholder Activism is Stirring in Australia and Accelerating in Asia


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Over the past two years, as COVID has rampaged around the world, an unexpected bonus for company boards has been the virtual exit, stage right, of activist shareholders. I’m not talking about the type of activism associated with ESG issues that we are increasingly seeing around the time of AGMs, but […]

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30 May 2022

Custodians on the share register


SALONI SURI, Shareholder Analytics In a previous blog, we talked about the structure of the share register. Common accounts on a share register include Retail Investors, Company Directors and Management, and Custodial or Nominee accounts. In this blog we will take a closer look at Custodians. Custodians’ accounts can be the most prominent shareholders on […]

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29 April 2022

Mastering Virtual Investor Days – Part 2


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director and GILES RAFFERTY, Senior Adviser Corporate Communication Following on from part 1, published in our March 2022 Newsletter, this second part of our overview of Virtual Investor Days looks at the complexities and advantages of managing online events and online presentation skills. Managing Digital Logistics For any Investor Day there are […]

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28 April 2022

The IPO market, so far in 2022


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations The IPO market in Australia was buoyant from late 2020 through 2021, following a period of subdued activity through 2019 and the first six months of Covid. This blog looks at how the IPO market is backing up in 2022 following a performance that broke all records in 2021. Despite initial […]

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30 March 2022

Mastering Virtual Investor Days – Part 1


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director In our popular two-part blog on The Do’s and Don’ts of Investor Days, we were working on the not unreasonable assumption that they would be in person events. Over the past two years Covid has ruled out face to face meetings, let alone organizing large events such as AGMs and Investor […]

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30 March 2022

STOCK BORROWING AND LENDING 101


CHRIS HUGHES, Shareholder Analyst The borrowing and lending of shares dates back to the earliest days of stock trading. Put simply, it involves the owner of shares ‘lending’ them to another investor or institution who ‘borrows’ them for a given length of time. Borrowing and lending deals are often transacted by market makers or dealers, […]

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28 February 2022

Distrust threatens societal stability


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Adviser One of the findings from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey is a cycle of distrust that is threatening societal stability both here in Australia and globally. The survey results were published on February 16th, a little over a week before Russia invaded the Ukraine. Australia trapped in […]

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28 February 2022

Same-Day Reporting in 2021


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations For a number of years, FIRST Advisers has been monitoring same day reporting in Australia. We define same day reporting to be when a company releases their Annual Report on the same day that they release their Full Year Financial Results. The practice of providing the Annual Report on the same […]

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28 February 2022

Proxy advice – if it ain’t, broke don’t try to fix it


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Adviser The dust has settled following the short-lived federal regulations designed to impose new licensing and independence requirements on the Proxy Adviser industry. The now defunct rules were introduced as regulations by Federal Treasure Josh Frydenberg, just before Christmas last year, rather than as legislation that could have been […]

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28 January 2022

ESG Reporting in 2021


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations At FIRST Advisers, a number of our clients are starting to focus on the task of reporting on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance for the first time. This reflects the increased momentum that has been gathering in recent years, particularly in the ASX 300. We first undertook a review […]

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30 November 2021

FIRST Edition in 2021


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Adviser. 2021 is drawing to a close with a sense of COVID-19 déjà vu. In late 2020 a new COVID variant, labelled Delta, was first identified in India. The Delta variant is characterised by mutations to the ‘spike protein’ which make it highly transmissible. The Delta variant is thought […]

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30 November 2021

Consolidation of ESG Reporting Frameworks moves a step closer


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. The big news this month was the announcement by the Chair of the IFRS Foundation, timed for release at COP26 on 3 November, of another important step towards the realization of global sustainability disclosure standards. At present there are a number of different frameworks that companies can use to guide how […]

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30 November 2021

The Decline in Traditional Shareholder Activism


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. Annual General Meeting season has just concluded and while the stats are still being collated for the final quarter, we already know that the role of climate and environmental activists in pursuing their agenda has continued to increase this year.  Data collected by Insightia from Q1 to Q3 over the past […]

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30 November 2021

Activists in Action


As 2021 winds down, we look at the meetings that we have been tracking over the past 11 months. November is always busy with listed company Annual General Meetings, however, the Extraordinary Meetings that were called this month didn’t come from shareholders, but instead from companies themselves looking to issue additional shares and make changes to […]

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28 October 2021

Why Intraday trading volumes may not impact a share register


SALONI SURI, Investor Relations Executive A common question asked by our clients is why they see more volume traded on market than captured in the investor tracking report over a period of time. Trading volumes and Underlying Beneficial Ownership Most of our clients experience large trading volumes on market but not all trading is reflected […]

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28 October 2021

PERCEPTION STUDIES TO SUPERCHARGE INVESTOR RELATIONS


BEN REBBECK, Founding Director Why you need to understand perceptions of your company The substantial resources, including staffing, technology, printing, advisers and senior management time that most companies devote to investor relations are unfortunately not unlimited. It’s therefore crucial that these scarce resources are utilised as efficiently as possible with the best IR outcomes for […]

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30 September 2021

Virtual AGMs


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Talking the talk at virtual AGMs As AGM season looms large, the Australian Federal Government has given clarity around what will be required to hold a virtual Annual General Meeting during the latter part of 2021. A key change, compared to the COVID-19 inspired temporary arrangements introduced in 2020, […]

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31 August 2021

Nailing Your Virtual Events


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations With most of Australia being plunged back into lockdown, and the August reporting season about to merge into roadshow season, there is no getting away from the fact that virtual briefings and meetings are still the only way to connect with shareholders and investors. So in this blog we explore the […]

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27 July 2021

Starting the ESG journey


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations At FIRST Advisers, we are increasingly offering advice to companies on how to best position themselves to meet investor demand for ESG accountability. What was once seen as a topic for socially conscious asset managers, is now widely adopted by investors. ESG was a hot topic at the US based National […]

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30 June 2021

The IPO Market in 2021


ROWAN CLARKE, Investor Relations The IPO market in 2020 sprang into life in October, having retreated into hibernation with the advent of COVID. The rush to list turned into a stampede as the year drew to a close with December registering a record listing in one month of 29 companies. This included large and high […]

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31 May 2021

All you need to know about Short Selling


SALONI SURI, Investor Relations Executive. Overview Short selling is a simple concept—an investor borrows a stock, sells the stock, and then buys the stock back to return it to the lender. In the period between selling borrowed stock and buying it back the investor is said to be ‘Short’ of stock, hence the term short […]

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31 May 2021

ESG at the Vanguard of proxy voting


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor. The financial markets adage is if Wall Street sneezes other markets catch cold. So it is worth keeping an eye on what’s happening in US financial markets as trends there tend to inform decision making elsewhere. In this context we have been interested to note how Vanguard, one of […]

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30 April 2021

Proxy Advisors in a time of COVID


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor The Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, we canvassed the three main Proxy Advisory firms operating in Australia Ownership Matters, CGI Glass Lewis and ISS to get a sense of what impact corporate and government responses to the pandemic has had on governance and their voting recommendations. Widening […]

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30 April 2021

The Convergence of ESG and Activist forces


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Activism during COVID A review of the impact of COVID 19 on activism globally in 2020 would suggest that it largely reinforced the trend of slowing activity that has been evident since its peak in 2018. In Australia the number of companies publically subjected to activists’ demands returned to the annual […]

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30 March 2021

How fair is your SPP?


ANNA FUGLESTAD, SHAREHOLDER ENGAGEMENT Over the past year as companies have taken advantage of buoyant equities market and COVID related exemptions to undertake capital raisings, retail shareholders have jumped on the opportunity to increasing their holdings through Share Purchase Plans. FIRST Advisers recently analyzed all Share Purchase Plans that occurred between March 2020 and February […]

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30 March 2021

Who’s really on your register?


IDENTIFYING THE BENEFICIAL OWNERS OF SHARES   ROWAN CLARKE, INVESTOR RELATIONS The ability to interrogate a company’s share register to identify its beneficial owners provides important information to Directors. In addition to identifying who is making decisions to buy and sell shares, it enables the Board and senior management to identify such things as where […]

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4 March 2021

The return of Guidance


DAN JONES, MANAGER SHAREHOLDER ANALYTICS In April 2020, we wrote that more than 80% of companies withdrew their FY20 guidance amid uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. During the February 2021 earnings season, we recommenced monitoring the results of S&P/ASX300 companies to establish to what extent the provision of guidance has been re-adopted and how companies are viewing […]

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4 March 2021

Locking in the Trust premium


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Trust in Australian Institutions has surged during the Coronavirus pandemic to reach all-time highs.  This resurgence of trust means, in Australia,  the institutions of Business, Government, Media and NGO’s are all now viewed as competent where just 12 months ago only Business was seen to be so. Two institutions, […]

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31 January 2021

Fink doubles down on climate


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communication and Media Advisor Restating that climate risk is investment risk, Larry Fink, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock, the world’s biggest and arguably most powerful investor, is calling for companies to share their plans for the transition to a net zero economy in his annual letter to CEOs. Mr Fink […]

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31 January 2021

ASX introduces new ‘15% Rule’


Ben Rebbeck, Founding Director Recently, the ASX announced updates to Guidance Note 8 on continuous disclosure requirements in relation to earnings guidance. While the ASX retained the framework of its existing guidance in the update, its changes to Guidance Note 8 include a new ‘15% Rule’ regarding the impact of broker consensus earnings on guidance and earnings […]

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31 January 2021

The IPO Market in 2020 – the Final Scorecard


VICTORIA GEDDES, Founding Director In September 2020 the door to the IPO market flew open and dozens of companies poured through in a rush to list before the Christmas/New Year shut down. Memories were still fresh from late 2019 when a promising IPO market was stopped dead in tracks in October as several high profile […]

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11 December 2020

2020! A year like no other


2020 was a year filled with extreme and extraordinary events. All of which played out in the context of the extraordinary global health crisis that is the Coronavirus pandemic. A year of extremes Here in Australia we endured bush fire disasters, the death of the Holden car brand and the tragedy of SAS war crimes […]

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30 October 2020

ESG Reporting among the ASX300


DAN JONES, Manager Shareholder Analytics As institutional investors increasingly demand more accountability for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, companies face pressure to improve their standards of ESG reporting. However, unlike financial data, ESG information has no legislated or regulatory reporting guidelines or formats so the mechanism for delivery and any adoption of a reporting […]

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30 October 2020

Video with vim and vigour


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor The camera never lies! A broad statement that still holds true despite the incredible advances in software to manipulate digital imagery. The cameras built into smartphones and laptops are amazingly sophisticated but are no guarantee that a video presentation will look good or be engaging. If you don’t […]

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30 September 2020

REVISITING SAME-DAY REPORTING TWO YEARS ON


Between 2016 and 2018, FIRST Advisers monitored how long companies took to release their Annual Report following the release of their Financial Results. The implementation of Same-Day Reporting has become an industry standard in terms of best practice investor relations because it reflects a commitment to release this document at a time when it has […]

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28 September 2020

The IPO window is wide open, but for how long?


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. The IPO window has unexpectedly opened after more than 18 months of subdued activity. Given the slowdown since February due to COVID-19 and the level of uncertainty surrounding the outlook for economic growth, no-one was banking on a quick return in 2020 to the levels of activity that the market had enjoyed […]

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28 September 2020

TOP TEN TIPS FOR IPO COMPANIES


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. As the market braces for an avalanche of IPOs to hit the market in the December quarter, it is time to review our playbook for IPO investor relations, to highlight just what it takes to maximise the chances of a successful life after listing. Here are our top 10 Investor Relations tips […]

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28 September 2020

Compliance update: Capital raising relief extended


This month, ASIC extended its temporary relief for capital raisings aimed to assist listed entities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to raise capital in a quicker and less costly way without undermining investor protection. The temporary measures were due to expire in October 2020. The temporary measures will now expire on 1 January 2021. The […]

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31 August 2020

Activism in 2020


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. At FIRST Advisers we pay close attention to the activist space in Australia, having worked on many campaigns for both activists and companies over the past ten years. In our monthly newsletter we have a regular slot that summarises for our readers the various activist campaigns over that month and we […]

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30 July 2020

Assessment of Virtual AGMs — Must try harder!


BEN REBBECK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR As the repercussions of the COVID pandemic started to impact the corporate sector ASIC, the Australian corporate regulator, following advice and prompting from their foreign counterparts, allowed Australian listed companies to hold fully virtual Annual General Meetings. ASIC’s pathway to enable virtual AGMs, as they were the first to admit, was […]

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28 July 2020

Corporate Purpose during the Coronavirus pandemic


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor, writing for the Winter 2020 Issue of Listed@ASX. What does the Coronavirus pandemic and the ‘new normal’, that is expected to emerge in its wake, mean for a Company’s purpose? As the pandemic surges across the globe many senior corporate leaders will, rightly, view the immediate purpose of […]

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30 June 2020

A new number 3 share registry


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications. An interview with Ben Kay, Executive Director, Automic At FIRST Advisers our shareholder analytics team works with all registries in the delivery of beneficial ownership analysis reports to our clients. We have watched the increasing penetration of Automic Group as a new player in the registry market in recent years and […]

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29 June 2020

The Tipping Point for ESG is Now (Part Two)


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. In Part 1 of our article on ESG last month* we looked at the extent to which ESG reporting has gained hold in Australia and whether the strong performance of ESG funds recently might represent a moment in time when investing according to ESG principles becomes mainstream. We introduced the Standard […]

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28 May 2020

Designs on Annual Reporting


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications. It is time to think about Annual Reports and then to think again. While an Annual Report must include content required by the Corporations Act and the ASX listing rules,that doesn’t mean we should limit our thinking to just meeting that objective. It is right and proper for the compulsory materials, […]

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28 May 2020

The Tipping Point for ESG is Now


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. The relentless push towards the adoption of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting by companies across the globe appears to be gaining momentum. As entire populations have gone into hibernation in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the topic of greatest interest in the global investment community is […]

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30 April 2020

Disclosure and guidance during COVID-19


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director. ASX Compliance Updates with some reminders on Disclosure Rules on Earnings Guidance Since the end of February 2020, ASX has released three key Compliance Updates (28 February, 31 March and 22 April) which include a raft of amendments or reminders, prompted in the main by the challenges associated with the impact […]

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30 April 2020

Getting COVID-19 capital raisings away


RON CAMERON, Investor Relations. The need to engage shareholders directly as a result of Recent Changes to Capital Raising Requirements ‘May you live in interesting times’, which is often characterised as a Chinese curse, has never been as relevant as it is today, in the time of COVID-19. Personal circumstances have been turned upside down […]

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30 March 2020

Guidance in Uncertain Times


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director Guidance and outlook statements, freshly minted from the February reporting season, are already being consigned to the waste paper basket. This makes sense when every week brings a new development that has the potential to threaten the very survival of many businesses. So what do you say to your shareholders when […]

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2 March 2020

Cybersecurity and Notifiable Data Breaches: What have the last 2 years taught us?


VICTORIA GEDDES, Executive Director It’s exactly two years now since the Federal Government introduced its Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) scheme. It requires every private and public company with annual turnover of $3 million or more, listed or not, to report cyber breaches that are likely to result in serious harm to individuals whose personal information […]

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28 February 2020

Australian CEOs need to take a stand


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor Australian’s don’t trust business. This is a key finding of the Edelman Trust Barometer, published on 19 February, which has been measuring levels of trust in business, Government, the media and NGOs for the past 20 years. It will be little comfort to Australian business leaders to know […]

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30 January 2020

Time to confront climate change


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor Every Government, company and shareholder must confront climate change according to Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. In his annual letter to CEO’s, Mr Fink says a rapidly growing awareness amongst investment market participants of the risks climate change poses to economic […]

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30 January 2020

Communicating in a crisis


GEOFF MICHELS, Senior Adviser, Corporate Communications One month in to 2020 and news headlines have been dominated by the bushfire crisis while the business pages have been reporting on the Australian retailing crises which has seen big brands literally shutting up shops, including the shock withdrawal of Kaufland from the Australian market. The crises in […]

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29 November 2019

CORPORATE PURPOSE


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’ is an adage that could easily be applied to the re-prioritising of a company’s Purpose as the underpinning of its culture and long term, sustainable growth. Only last August, The Business Roundtable (BRT) an American association whose members […]

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28 November 2019

Acclimatising to a new normal? – 2019 in review


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor 2019 is bookended by environmental challenges. The year began with massive fish mortalities in the Murray Darling and is ending with a devastating, early bushfire season that has impacted every state in the country. In between, on the global stage, climate activist Greta Thunberg made an impassioned speech […]

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30 October 2019

Australian Activism: Down but far from out


VICTORIA GEDDES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR As we approach the end of the year with, realistically, less than two months left to launch and complete a new campaign, the stats already tell us most of what we need to know about the changing shape of activism in Australia in 2019. Activity is 20% down on last year’s […]

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30 October 2019

ASX tightens listing rules


GILES RAFFERTY, Corporate Communications and Media Advisor “It’s important that ASX keeps evolving the listing rules so they remain contemporary, address emerging compliance issues, and continue to serve the interests of issuers, investors, and the Australian economy.” Kevin Lewis, ASX Chief Compliance Officer. A range of changes to the ASX listing rules will come into […]

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30 September 2019

THIS IS WHY MANY OF YOUR RETAIL SHAREHOLDERS DON’T VOTE


BEN REBBECK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Poor retail voter turnout is often accepted as ‘the norm’ and put down to reasons such as lack of retail investor interest to lack of company engagement. While these factors may partly contribute to poor retail voting, there is one structural cause that is relatively unknown and therefore not addressed by […]

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30 September 2019

Five ways to improve an IR website


An Investor Relations website is the critical channel through which to communicate educate and engage with investors. It should be more than a demonstration of compliance with the Corporations Act 2001 and a listed company’s disclosure obligations. It is a gateway through which to tell a company’s investment story so it is equally well understood […]

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5 September 2019

ASIC ups limit for Share Purchase Plans in a win-win for investors and corporates


RON CAMERON, SENIOR ADVISER, INVESTOR RELATIONS Markets regulator, The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), has doubled the amount that retail investors can contribute to Share Purchase Plans. The change is the result of ASIC updating the Class Order that defines how ASX listed companies can issue shares, via a SPP, to registered shareholders without […]

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3 September 2019

FIRST Advisers Annual Guidance Report – FY20


DAN JONES, MANAGER SHAREHOLDER ANALYTICS During August we monitored companies in the S&P/ASX300 Index that reported for the period ending 30 June 2019, building a picture of the approach to guidance in this market and what that guidance is telling us about outlook for FY20. Victoria Geddes, Co-founding Executive Director at FIRST Advisers said “If […]

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