Michele Leung, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK) / 香港地球之友綠色金融顧問 Michele Leung

The COVID-19 outbreak presents significant risks across sectors in global economy. One topic that has been widely discussed is the labour management and human capital, and how companies are managing through these times. For example, in aviation industry, lack of strong labour management program and low cash ratio could elevate business risk. The lapses in supply chain labour management may deepen concerns on business continuity for sectors like technology hardware. For retail food & staples, they are also facing public scrutiny as protecting their employees while ensuring continued access to essential good. Companies without regular employee channels and a poor track record regarding health & safety would likely to be impacted. On the other hand, companies that have been positioned to face the human capital challenge by offering systemic training programs, competitive benefits and widespread communication channels are likely to prove its resiliency.

ESG has never been more important than now in the midst of pandemic. It has been proven that ESG should be considered as one of the risk factors, and investors need to understand the ESG characteristics and the impact on their portfolios. Recent studies have also shown analytically that ESG as a positive distinctive driver of performance in this particular period.

While the duration of the crisis is uncertain, the economic consequences of pandemic will certainly last for few quarters. Investors may want to take the current opportunity to reset the portfolio, integrate ESG into their strategy, or at least, adding the ESG transparency to their portfolios.

新型冠狀病毒疫情對全球經濟和各行各業帶來重大風險。最受廣泛討論的話題便是人力資源管理及人力資本,以及企業在這段時期怎樣進行管理。例如,在航空業界,缺乏強而有力的人力資源管理方案和較低的現金流動比率可能會增加業務風險。供應鏈上人力資源管理的連續失誤可能會加劇技術硬件等行業業務的擔憂。零售食品和原材料行業也同時吸引著公眾視線,他們在保障員工的同時也需要確保持續的基本供應。沒有正規僱員溝通渠道、並且在健康和安全方面往績差的公司亦可能會受到影響。但在另一方面,有提供系統化培訓計劃、具競爭力的員工福利和廣泛溝通渠道來面對人力資本挑戰的公司,則有較大機會顯示其彈性。

在這場傳染病大流行發生之前,ESG從來沒有如此重要過。事實證明,ESG應該被視為眾多風險因素之一,投資者需要了解ESG的特性及其對投資組合的影響。 最近的研究和分析也顯示,ESG是這個特殊時期能夠推動業績的主要元素。

儘管我們不確定這場危機會持續多久,但瘟疫的經濟影響肯定會持續幾個季度。 投資者需要藉此機會重設投資組合,將ESG納入其策略,或至少在其投資組合中增加ESG的透明度。