【英语财经】投资者需要可靠的信息 Give investors access to all the information they need

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所属分类:双语财经

2014-5-30 06:40

小艾摘要: The most valuable currency in financial markets is reliable information. Without it, investors are unable to make informed decisions about where to allocate their capital, which hurts companies’ abil ...
Give investors access to all the information they need
The most valuable currency in financial markets is reliable information. Without it, investors are unable to make informed decisions about where to allocate their capital, which hurts companies’ ability to attract it and puts a drag on economic growth. Transparency is an economic engine.

For decades, investors’ decisions have been aided principally by financial statements. But such information gives an incomplete picture of a company’s health.

Many other factors affect the sustainability of a business, both internal (such as talent recruitment and retention) and external (such as constraints on natural resources). How effectively a company addresses such issues can profoundly affect its prospects. The trouble is, investors and shareholders often do not have ready access to comparable information about these issues.

A 2014 study by the consultants EY found that two-thirds of global investors evaluate non-financial disclosures. However, only half of this group uses a structured process to make their assessments. A way of providing standardised information to investors is required.

Take climate risk, for example, and consider two property development companies, both valued at $1bn. If one owns buildings that are in a coastal flood plain and the other does not, do you – as an investor – want to know?

Of course you do. Such information is not generally disclosed in financial filings. It may be difficult to find, evaluate and compare.

Similarly, investors want to know which automobile companies are making the most progress in developing alternative fuel vehicles; and which insurance companies have identified how much vulnerability their insured assets face as sea levels rise, storms intensify and business is interrupted. For the most part, however, investors do not know the answers to these questions.

In fact, sustainability issues that are not reflected on financial statements arise in every industry. Look at counterfeit drugs. The global market for counterfeits is estimated at $431bn – representing 1 per cent of the US pharmaceutical supply, and 10-15 per cent of the world’s supply – which eats into corporate revenue and carries a deadly toll. Investors rightly want to know how this affects companies. But that information can prove elusive.

The same is true for data security in the consumer finance industry. In 2012 fraud losses for global credit and debit card companies amounted to $11.3bn. Which companies have most effectively combated fraud? The data are not easy to obtain.

Lastly, look at hardware products that depend on minerals such as tantalum and tin, often derived from unstable regions where mining them can fuel conflict. Metals such as tantalum are crucial and scarce. Yet mobile phones containing them are discarded in landfill sites when they could have been recycled.

Although some companies share information on sustainability, reporting is not standardised and is usually geared to advocacy groups rather than those with a financial interest. The time has come to give investors comparable, standardised data on these increasingly significant risks and opportunities. Standardising disclosure of sustainability information could bring significant financial benefits for shareholders and potential investors – and help strengthen the global economy’s long-term health.

To accomplish this, an organisation founded in 2011 – the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, for which we serve respectively as chair and vice-chair – is working with US-listed corporations and investors to create industry-specific measurement and reporting standards on non-financial data. The standards are designed for use in the management discussion and analysis section of Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Together with investors representing $17tn of assets under management and companies representing $8tn of market capital, we are identifying uniform metrics that will help investors compare companies within more than 80 industries in 10 sectors. In addition, the standards will help companies gauge their strengths, weaknesses and position relative to competitors.

To be clear: these standards are not an attempt to change any laws about what businesses must disclose. It remains up to each board to decide what information is material to their investors. Rather, our aim is to make disclosure more cost-effective for companies and more useful to their owners.

Adopting non-financial reporting standards will be an important step forward for transparency in our capital markets. It will help set our companies on a course for long-term growth. In the process, it will also make our economy more resilient and competitive, protecting it against costly risks that – once they are known and properly valued – can be avoided.

Michael Bloomberg is founder of Bloomberg LP. Mary Schapiro is the former chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission

可靠的信息是金融市场里最具价值的货币。没有可靠的信息,投资者就无法在资本配置问题上做出明智的决策,这会削弱企业吸引资本的能力,拖累经济增长。透明度是经济增长的一个引擎。

数十年来,投资者在做决策时主要是得到了财务报表的帮助,但这类信息并不能充分反映一家企业的健康状况。

一家企业的可持续性还受到许多其他因素的影响,内在因素(如人才的招聘与保留)和外在因素(如自然资源的约束)都有。企业解决这些问题的效率可给其发展前景造成深远影响。麻烦的是,关于这些问题,投资者和股东往往得不到现成的可比较信息。

咨询机构安永(EY) 2014年进行的一项研究发现,全球有三分之二的投资者会对企业披露的非财务信息进行评估。然而,其中只有一半的人在做评估时使用结构性流程。有必要设计出一种向投资者提供标准化信息的方法。

就拿气候风险来说吧。考虑两家估值都为10亿美元的房地产开发商:一家开发商旗下有些楼盘建在沿海易发洪涝的平原,另一家开发商则没有这样的楼盘。作为一名投资者,你想知道这条信息吗?

你当然想知道。财务文件一般不披露这类信息。人们可能很难找到、评估和比较这类信息。

同样,投资者想知道哪家汽车企业在开发替代燃料汽车上进展最大;想知道随着海平面上升、风暴强度加大和商业活动遭受干扰,哪家保险公司搞清楚了自己承保的资产面临的风险程度。但普遍而言,投资者并不知道这些问题的答案是什么。

事实上,每个行业都有财务报表没有反映出的可持续性问题。看看假药吧。全球假药市场交易额估计达4310亿美元(假药占美国药品供应的1%,占全球药品供应的10%至15%),假药市场侵蚀企业收入,给企业造成致命打击。投资者理所当然想知道这一因素对企业造成了怎样的影响,但事实证明这类信息很难找到。

消费金融业的数据安全也面临同样的情况。2012年,欺诈给全球信用卡和借记卡公司造成的损失达113亿美元。哪些企业对欺诈的打击最为有效?相关数据并不容易获得。

最后,看看硬件产品。制造硬件产品需要钽和锡等矿物,这些矿物多是从动荡地区开采来的,而矿物开采可能会使当地冲突激化。钽等金属既重要又稀缺。然而,含有这些矿物的旧手机却被丢进了垃圾填埋场,而它们原本是可以回收利用的。

尽管有些企业分享关于可持续性的信息,但它们的报告却无标准可言,而且通常是面向游说团体,而不是面向与之有经济利益的人。现在已经到了就这些越来越重要的风险和机会向投资者提供可比较的、标准化的数据的时候了。按照一定标准来披露可持续性信息,可为股东和潜在投资者带来巨大经济利益,也有助于巩固全球经济的长期健康发展。

为达成这一目标,可持续性会计准则委员会(Sustainability Accounting Standards Board,简称SASB)正与美国的上市公司及投资者合作,创立各行业专门的非财务数据衡量及报告标准。这些标准旨在用于美国证交会(SEC)备案文件的管理讨论与分析章节。SASB成立于2011年,我们两人分别担任该委员会的主席与副主席。

SASB与管理资产额总计17万亿美元的投资者和市值总计8万亿美元的企业一道,正在确认统一的衡量标准,这些标准可帮助投资者对80多个行业的企业进行10方面的比较。此外,这些标准可帮助企业了解自己相对于竞争对手的优势、劣势以及所处的位置。

需要明确的是,这些标准并不试图改变任何有关企业必须披露的信息的法律。何种信息对投资者是必不可少的,这点仍由各家企业的董事会决定。实际上,我们的目标是使披露变得对企业更具成本效益、对它们的股东更有帮助。

确立非财务报告标准将是向提高资本市场透明度迈出的重要一步。它将有助于我们的企业走上长期发展之路。在这个过程中,它还会让我们的经济更具弹性和竞争力,使之免于蒙受代价高昂、但一旦了解并正确估价便可避免的风险。

迈克尔?布隆伯格(Michael Bloomberg)是彭博社(Bloomberg LP)创始人,玛丽?夏皮罗(Mary Schapiro)是美国证交会前主席

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