87. Priorities for 2023 and 2024

As Australia’s leading network of retail investors, ASA, strives to be a voice for its members and influence the investment environment. In this work we are guided by the feedback and advice of our members, through our membership groups, our committees, and targeted surveys.

The diversity of the ASA community brings a range of views on various topics of significance to shareholders and provides us with perspectives that we may not have considered, making our efforts and our messages more effective. As always, we thank you for your insights.

Recently, we sought your views about the organisation’s policy priorities – the issues upon which we will base our advocacy for the rest of the year. Here, arguably, diversity can pose a challenge, as we try to reconcile disparate viewpoints and distil them into a clear direction.

To be truly representative, we need to hear and understand opposing perspectives so that we can make our position robust and reflective of ASA’s membership and the best interests of the retail investment community.

Policy Priorities for 2023-24

Balancing risk and opportunity in accessible on-exchange investments: an appropriately regulated market that protects investors while not limiting their access to appropriate investment options in line with risk tolerance and financial literacy.

Improving governance of companies: promoting practices within company boardrooms that lead to better decision-making and more informed shareholders.

Sustainable retirement incomes and superannuation: well-considered, consistent policy frameworks that support investment for retirement.

Identifying the Policies

ASA develops its priorities through a well-established annual process, which was enhanced this year with a couple of additional steps:

1. a policy survey (new), which allows members to indicate the issues that matter most to them;

2. a review of the results by the ASA Policy Committee (new), which identifies the key issues and sets out the proposed policy priorities;

3. engagement with the State Committees, ensuring that we account for regional perspectives and concerns and tailor the agenda to match the needs of our diverse membership;

4. input from subject matter experts, who can bring technical knowledge that helps us to refine and improve our positions; and

5. open dialogue with members, so that we can remain responsive to the evolving needs of our members and retail investors.

Addressing the Priorities

Now that they have been finalised, ASA will apply the policy priorities to:

shape debate – by communicating these policies through clear and persuasive arguments, we can influence policy development and represent retail investors effectively;

engage with companies – the priorities give us a better understanding of investor concerns, allowing us to advocate for improvements to governance and transparency and to promote leading practices;

educate stakeholders – raising awareness of the significance and impacts of Australia’s 7.7 million investors on the functioning and confidence of financial markets and the broader economy.

Working with Stakeholders

ASA collaborates with a diverse range of stakeholders to craft effective policies.

These include regulatory bodies, such as ASIC and APRA, ASX, ASX- listed companies, Treasury, senators and members of Parliament, subject matter experts, organisations sharing similar interests, and ASA members.

This multi-faceted approach ensures comprehensive and well- rounded policy development that addresses various perspectives and needs.

Reviewing our Achievements

Each year in March/April, we will conduct a comprehensive review of the progress made towards achieving our policy priorities.

This annual assessment will serve as the foundation for determining the key areas of focus for the upcoming financial year, ensuring that our efforts remain aligned with our goals and objectives.

Company Donations

Recently, we asked members about their views of companies donating to, or supporting, charities and social issues.

The survey was in part in response to queries from the membership about the Association’s stance on the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

The results confirmed broad agreement for companies supporting charities that align with their purpose, strategy, and objectives, but strong opposition to throwing weight behind any political causes.

Obviously, organisations will occasionally take stances on social issues, and there may be good reasons for them to do so. ASA is supportive of companies who take a well communicated stance, where it aligns with the best interests of the company. These need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

However, ASA will not be taking a position on the Voice referendum beyond supporting respectful debate, as we believe that this is a matter for individuals to decide for themselves.

To gain further insight into this matter, you can read more about our social issues policy on our website.

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