Corporate governance is about culture and the solutions shouldn’t be overly prescriptive, says ACCA

Date

11 Apr 2017

Sections

Euro & Finance
Innovation & Enterprise

Press release

The UK government would be well-advised to address the corporate governance issues raised in today’s report from the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee, but must avoid overly prescriptive compliance-driven measures to tackle corporate culture, according to ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

‘The enforcement of superficial targets is no substitute for a principles-based approach to corporate culture which tackles issues at the root cause,’ said Jo Iwasaki, head of corporate governance at ACCA.

‘The Select Committee’s report is useful in identifying ways that we can improve current guidance on corporate governance, but to resolve issues in the most effective way we need to look at bottom-up solutions that obtain the engagement and buy-in of employees, not just company boards.’

 

On the nature of corporate governance reform

‘The framework model adopted by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has been largely successful so far in driving best practice, considering that this is a long-term exercise,’ said Ms Iwasaki.

‘If we pile more compliance measures on companies, whether listed or private, we run the risk of seeing corporate governance reduced to a superficial tick-box exercise.

‘This will not achieve cultural reform in the same way that a committed effort driven by the board and executives, guided by an effective framework will.’

 

On improving diversity at board level

‘It is broadly acknowledged that a diverse board enables better, more constructive discussions which lead to better decision making.

‘I welcome the acknowledgement in today’s report that diversity should be viewed in its broadest sense, with intellectual diversity and experience being considered as important as ethnicity and gender.

‘However, regulatory tools can be blunt instruments when it comes to enforcing diversity on boards. Providing additional guidance on the benefits of diversity, and requiring companies to disclose information on diversity in their annual reports, is therefore welcome.

‘I do not think the Committee’s proposal to impose a quota on the FTSE 350 would necessarily change the culture issues that are the root cause of low levels of diversity, both at the top and in the pipeline. To increase overall diversity, companies need to understand the benefits of a diverse workforce and encourage it at all levels.’

 

On executive pay and pay ratio

‘Remuneration should be linked to long-term, sustainable company performance.

‘The disclosure of pay ratios between CEO and senior executives and all other employees could be a positive initiative, provided it is accompanied by relevant narratives to ensure transparency and good conduct, such as the basis of the calculation, the benchmark the company considers to be reasonable, and the actions that have been or will be taken to achieve it.

‘This should help communicate the company’s vision for sustainable success, as well as its culture of accountability, to internal and external stakeholders.’

 

On stakeholder advisory panels

‘ACCA advised in our submission that stakeholder advisory panels could be beneficial for companies as they could ensure a broad range of stakeholder views and could optimise opportunities and identify risks more effectively.

‘I agree with the Committee recommendation that the corporate governance code be revised to require a section in annual reports detailing how companies are conducting engagement with stakeholders.’

‘However, creating a stakeholder advisory panel should not be seen as a substitute for good governance – that responsibility must always rest with the board.’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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For media enquiries, contact:

Adele Gilbert, ACCA Newsroom

T: +44 (0)20 7059 5077

M: + 44 (0)7753 242 464

E: adele.gilbert@accaglobal.com

Twitter @ACCANews

 

Notes to Editors

 

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 100 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com