Investors, consumers, analysts, employees, and other key stakeholders have long looked at financial metrics and performance as key indicators of a business’s operational health. Now, those same stakeholders are increasingly demanding that companies make and report on progress toward strategic commitments to advance their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, too. In Taiwan, the Stock Exchange (TWSE) has introduced regulation requiring some listed companies to publish an annual ESG report, disclosing their performance on key ESG metrics. Globally, the number of ESG regulations and standards has doubled in the last five years and this continues to be a key area of focus for regulators. In fact, more than 600 different pieces of ESG reporting provisions in play globally, with many having different interpretations of sustainability.
These trends are increasingly leading executives to prioritize and demonstrate progress on ESG metrics, with PwC reporting that, 91% of business leaders believe their company has a responsibility to act on ESG issues.
As ESG continues its rise to the top of the corporate agenda, Michael Chung, Greater China General Manager of Wolters Kluwer’s CCH Tagetik business, shared insights in an exclusive interview with 《The Icons》. Michael Chung sheds light on the obstacles faced by Taiwanese enterprises that are feeling increased pressure to collect and reliably report ESG data, and he explains how the same kind of technologies that are driving the digital transformation of financial and corporate performance reporting can be leveraged to facilitate ESG reporting, too. Michael Chung also shares results from a recent Wolters Kluwer survey of finance professionals, which studied the current state of digital finance transformation within businesses; and concluded with reflections on the Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik commitment to the Taiwanese market and its future vision.
Why ESG Reporting is a Top Challenge for Finance Leaders
“Taiwan is expected to increase its ESG regulations, with a first major step being the requirement that a significant number of listed companies publish ESG reports by 2025,” said Michael Chung, who has helped Taiwanese enterprises improve their corporate performance management (CPM) and financial reporting for more than 20 years. He is now leveraging that experience to help Taiwanese enterprises tackle the complexities of ESG reporting, too.
Michael Chung believes that adhering to constantly evolving ESG reporting regulations requires cross-functional collaboration and data sharing between departments, with the finance department taking a leading role. Similar to financial reporting, the ESG reporting process involves dealing with complex data from dozens and sometimes hundreds of sources, which are often fragmented and challenging to manage comprehensively.
“Aside from adhering to Taiwan’s ESG regulations, companies are also seeking to align with international standards like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD). Research shows that the vast majority of companies are currently unprepared to adhere to these requirements, because they lack the ability to efficiently collect, report, analyze and assure the accuracy of their ESG data,” said Michael Chung.
He pointed to a 2022 EY study, which found that 60% of finance executives say their ESG data resides in a patchwork of software applications – many of which don’t connect with each other. Fifty-five percent of those executives say their ESG data resides in spreadsheets. He says that just as managing valuable data in a patchwork of disconnected systems and spreadsheets would make it nearly impossible for organizations to fully understand and improve their financial performance – the same is true when it comes to their ESG data.
“Organizations that win the confidence and trust of key stakeholders, including regulators, will be the ones that harness the power of advanced technology to digitally transform the way they collect, report, analyze and assure the accuracy of both their financial and ESG data,” said Michael Chung.
Digital Transformation: A Crucial Step in Measuring and Improving Financial and ESG Performance
Michael Chung emphasized that in the world of financial and ESG reporting, the new normal is complex, perpetual change. This has intensified businesses’ urgent need for optimized budgeting, forecasting, cost control processes, flexibility, and rapid responsiveness. That’s why he says it’s essential that finance leaders adopt user-friendly, digital tools that provide real-time data and strategic insights about financial and ESG performance.
A 2023 survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik, among 600 finance and business leaders in private sector enterprises that have 1,000+ employees in China, reveals the key ways that financial professionals are looking to leverage technology to improve their corporate performance.
Sixty percent (59.54%) of respondents to the 2023 Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik survey identified improving planning, budgeting, and forecasting capabilities as a key objective in their digital transformations. Other significant aspects included:
- 56.74%: Reporting and analysis
- 54.93%: Financial consolidation
- 54.11%: Profitability analysis
Michael Chung explained that CCH Tagetik’s AI-enabled corporate performance management (CPM) solution is an example of the kind of technology that can deliver these types of insights to enterprises of all sizes. He believes that as ESG continues to rise to the top of the corporate agenda, Taiwanese enterprises will experience an increased appetite – and need – for transformational ESG technology, too.
“Through its flexible architecture, the CCH Tagetik platform seamlessly connects and swiftly processes extensive finance and operations datasets, in a way that empowers users to enhance enterprise performance management, make more accurate business predictions, improve cost control, and ultimately make better decisions,” said Michael Chung.
Michael Chung also shared that the CCH Tagetik expert solution was recently recognized by Gartner as a Leader in financial planning solutions in both 2022 and 2023, and as a 2023 Leader in financial close and consolidation software, too. Additionally, the 2023 “Gartner Peer Insights” report, recognized Wolters Kluwer as a “Customers’ Choice” for Financial Planning Software, with 97% of CCH Tagetik users indicating that they are willing to recommend the platform to peers.
“Implementing an AI-enabled CPM solution can provide finance teams with greater confidence in providing accurate financial reports, while ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations, and empowering them to make more informed business decisions. The same is true in the world of ESG. The right technology can also make it easier for enterprises to efficiently collect and analyze ESG related data, so they can develop accurate ESG reports, drive compliance with ESG reporting requirements, and ultimately improve their ESG performance,” said Michael Chung.
To meet this growing market need, in April 2023, Wolters Kluwer announced that it would further expand the CCH Tagetik expert solution portfolio – which has long been driving the digital transformation of financial reporting processes – to meet the evolving ESG reporting needs of Taiwanese companies.
New CCH Tagetik ESG & Sustainability Performance Management functionality now helps companies comply with ESG reporting and disclosure requirements, while driving long-term, sustainable growth.
This new, audit-friendly functionality captures, consolidates and facilitates the reporting of ESG data and operational key performance indicators (KPIs), as required by an increasing number of global governing bodies and by the Taiwan Stock Exchange’s new ESG disclosure platform.
Building Momentum to Help Taiwanese Companies Gain Competitive Advantage in a Global Market
“Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik places great importance on the growth of our customer base in Taiwan, and our primary customers in this market are currently in the insurance industry, including Hotai Insurance Co., Ltd. and ShinKong Insurance Co., Ltd.,” said Michael Chung. “Our ultimate goal is to establish collaborative relationships not only in insurance but also in high technology, retail, and FMCG.”
The CCH Tagetik CPM solution entered the Taiwanese market in 2021 and since that time has helped many companies improve the efficiency of performance management. With the recent introduction of its ESG reporting functionality, Michael Chung says that CCH Tagetik platform can also help Taiwanese enterprises improve the efficiency and accuracy of their ESG performance and reporting, too.
“Our clients are benchmark enterprises in their respective fields. After implementing CCH Tagetik solutions, our Taiwanese customers are better empowered to respond to rapidly changing business environments, predict and plan for various scenarios. We believe that the successes experienced by our customers will help fuel the continued expansion throughout Greater China,” explained Michael Chung.
“Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik is deeply committed to its Taiwanese clients. We not only use our services to help them make more informed business decisions and gain an advantage over competitors but hope to accompany Taiwanese companies in their growth, moving toward the world and driving competitive advantage in the global market,” Michael Chung concluded.
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