Recently, we have observed a paradigm shift among investors’ perception. For many years, ESG was seen primarily as an additional way of mitigating risk; increasingly, ESG is not only becoming an almost imperative risk mitigation factor, but is also understood as an attractive yield factor. Promoting financial literacy – something SIX is committed to – is another aspect that can help to direct capital towards sustainable investments.
How are you supporting your issuers in the context of this growing investor demand?
With regards to listed companies, we see our role as a stock exchange to offer them guidance to fulfil ESG regulations that are constantly evolving, which presents a major challenge. We don’t make the rules – but we are proactively guiding our issuers to help them be compliant more easily. For example, we provide a growing range of ESG training courses and workshops as well as ESG guidance in our Investor Relations Handbook. That includes how companies can best serve the information needs of both institutional and private investors, how to approach disclosure requirements across different jurisdictions, how to get started on disclosing sustainability factors, and many other topics.
Issuers on SIX Swiss Exchange can also voluntarily opt in to provide a sustainability report in accordance with an internationally recognized standard, which we then make available to the market on our website. Only when those two things come together, companies being compliant and exchanges like us providing visibility, does transparency to investors start to become even more meaningful.
Couldn’t you be even more “proactive” and accelerate change by imposing stricter requirements for companies and products listed and traded on your exchanges?
This is an interesting question. We could quite possibly implement onerous access and listing rules on our exchanges. But that misses the point: we all have a responsibility – infrastructures, issuers, investors, regulators, and policy-makers – to work closely together to foster a coherent approach to addressing environmental, social, and governance issues. Without wanting to diminish our role at the heart of the economy – ensuring efficient and reliable capital raising and allocation – we are only one part of this equation and are there to facilitate the dialogue and progress, not close doors to issuers or policy-makers.