April Chan's opening ceremony speech at the 9th China Corporate Governance Forum held in Shanghai on the 18th of December 2010:
Good morning, honourable Chairman Shang Fulin, Mayor Han Zheng, Mr. Meng Jianmin, Chairman Geng Liang, Mr. Richard Alan Boucher, ,distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
As a representative of the Corporate Secretaries International Association, it is my great hounour to be invited to speak at this 9th China Corporate Governance Forum. I thank you and appreciate the opportunity. I wish to extend my sincere congratulations and highest respect to all the corporate and individual winners of the 2010 Annual Awards for Best Board of Directors, Best Information Disclosure and Excellent Independent Director.
Today’s forum is a key event in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Chinese capital and securities markets. In December 20 years ago, the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges were established and marked the start of a new era for the Chinese capital market. After 20 years of navigation through challenging times, these Exchanges are now amongst the world’s largest securities markets in terms of market capitalisation. Corporate governance standards and practices have been increasingly applied in listed companies.
The history has demonstrated impressive growth toward the maturity of the capital markets as well as great success of China in becoming one of the most robust economies in the world.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange has made continuous efforts to strengthen the corporate governance of Chinese companies and has a proven track record in this area. An annual corporate governance forum has been organized since 2001, an Annual Report for Chinese Corporate Governance has been issued since 2003, China’s first Corporate Governance Index was established, a corporate governance section and related ETF products have been set up, and a series of professional training and follow-up tutorials for independent directors and board secretaries introduced.
The subprime loan crisis in the US and the subsequent world financial crisis in 2008 resulted from deficiencies in corporate governance. It is a common concern and challenge for all international companies to set up internal control procedures responsive to regulation, to allocate and balance power among Directors of the Board and to disclose sufficient information for better transparency. For all public companies, I believe a foundation of sound corporate governance stems from the effectiveness of the board of directors and independent directors, and from information disclosure practices. The three awards to be granted from the Shanghai Stock Exchange are strong evidence of support for the establishment of effective corporate governance. I would like to raise awareness of the importance of a Board Secretary in a company as she/he is responsible for corporate governance and information disclosure. The board secretary assumes similar responsibilities as the company secretary, both of whom are vital in ensuring good corporate governance.
Though corporate governance regulations differ in different legal systems, the concepts and practices amongst international companies are becoming increasingly more reflective of each other. Principles and practices developed in different countries are increasingly similar to each other, for example, internal control of listed companies after the financial crises, and regulation of the financial reports of listed companies. A new development is the regulators’ focus on the non-financial section of reporting – integrated reporting covering corporate social responsibility and environmental concerns. At the same time, the board secretary, who manages the operation of board, is assuming greater responsibility in implementing corporate governance practices. Hong Kong regulators are preparing consultation documents on the role of company secretary.
A McKinsey research shows that international institutional investors are willing to pay a 30 per cent premium to buy stock of companies with sound corporate governance. Research conducted by the Shanghai Stock Exchange yields a similar result regarding investment biases of Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII) when buying A-shares. However, it is hard to get an objective evaluation of corporate governance because different companies adopt different codes and standards. Furthermore, the person responsible for corporate governance at a public company in different securities markets may have different qualifications and responsibilities, and this hinders the co-ordinated development of corporate governance worldwide.
The Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA) was established in March of this year in Paris. The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries was one of the founding members and it was my great honour to be the first elected President of the CSIA.
The CSIA represents approximately 70,000 governance professionals from more than 70 countries and territories globally. Full member organisations include national/territorial representative organisations from Hong Kong/China, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and affiliated member organisations are from the United States, New Zealand and Sri-Lanka. CSIA’s mission is to develop and grow the study and practice of secretaryship and good governance and to support the professionalisation of corporate secretaryship internationally. CSIA released the publication “20 Practical Steps to Better Governance” to develop international corporate governance codes and is working with the World Trade Organisation to introduce a separate Head in the WTO’s Services Sectoral Classification List with a view to enhancing the recognition and qualification of corporate secretaries and governance professionals.
China’s Twelfth Five-year Plan has formulated the longer term objectives of reform and innovation in China’s financial system, as well as its international development. The theme of this forum is “Construction of the Blue-chip Stock” which manifests the vision of Shanghai is to become an international financial centre and to nurture world-class enterprises that can compete globally. A professional corporate secretary position is important for the advancement of China’s financial market, internal control mechanisms and the international expansion of enterprises. CSIA and The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries are willing to work with Chinese regulators to contribute to the growth of Chinese capital markets. We are happy to offer our knowledge and experience in corporate governance practices, the professionalisation of board secretaries with international recognition, as well as training of corporate governance practitioners. CSIA sincerely wishes to work closely with all of you, share our information and extensive experience in corporate governance, contribute to China’s securities market and help train financial professionals.
Finally, I wish the Forum great success. Thank you everyone!
The Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA) today released a research report recommending 20 practical steps for boards to improve their companies’ corporate governance.
View full research report on 20 practical steps to better corporate governance.
The report coincides with the formation of the CSIA, which is a Geneva-registered body representing more than 70,000 governance professionals in more than 70 countries.
“Corporate governance is undergoing much questioning given the serious governance failings that contributed to and sustained the financial crisis,” said April Chan, CSIA President.
“We are creating a global professional organization – one building on the strengths of national/territorial associations that represent corporate secretaries, who are on the frontline in helping companies implement best practice corporate governance. Governance is as much about people, as it is about procedures. Corporate secretaries are part of the solution to improve corporate governance practices worldwide. With the launch of CSIA we become a global profession with a global voice and global reach.”
CSIA will work to achieve broader recognition of corporate secretaries and governance professionals with worldwide organizations such as the WTO, ILO, OECD, IFC, WorldBank, EU and the UN. It will also promote the study and practice of secretaryship. Full CSIA members include corporate secretary associations and institutes from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Africa, UK/Ireland, and Zimbabwe. Equivalent professional bodies from Canada, New Zealand, and the US joined CSIA as affiliate members.
"The creation of CSIA is an exciting development enabling industry professionals globally to work more effectively together to shape corporate governance and develop unified best practice," said Jeff Sainsbury, Executive Vice President of Global Capital Markets, Computershare, a global registrar which provides a wide range of products and services to support the corporate secretaries profession and a CSIA founding sponsor.
Written by world-renowned Professor Bob Tricker, the report draws from nine experts’ contributions, including Sir Adrian Cadbury.
The 20 steps include:
For further information contact:
CSIA at email@example.com
The Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA) was launched on 22 March 2010 at the World Bank Headquarters in Paris, France.
During the launch a research report ’Twenty practical steps to better corporate governance’ was released. Included in the report are twenty practical steps that boards can take to improve their companies’ corporate governance.
CSIA is a Geneva-registered body representing more than 70,000 governance professionals in 70-
plus countries before international/inter-governmental organisations (including WTO, ILO, OECD, IFC, WorldBank, EU and the UN). CSIA will work to achieve broader recognition of corporate secretaries and governance professionals. It will also promote the study and practice of secretaryship.
Full CSIA members include corporate secretary associations and institutes from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Africa, UK/Ireland, and Zimbabwe. Equivalent professional bodies from Canada, New Zealand, and the US joined CSIA as affiliate members.
View CSIA President's Opening Speech 2010
View CSIA Q&A Session, including Philip Baldwin, April Chan, Stephen Sadie, Tim Sheehy and David Wilson
Below is the list of CSIA Council 2010:
President - April W. Y. Chan (Hong Kong member representative)
Vice President - Vinayak S. Khanvalkar (India member representative)
Secretary – Stephen Sadie (Southern Africa member representative) View Stephen Sadie's message about the CSIA launch in BoardRoom release 1/2010
Treasurer - Peter Turnbull (Australia member representative)
Janet Ang (Malaysia member representative)
Grace Tan (Singapore member representative)
David Wilson (UK/Ireland member representative)
Constantine M. A. Mutiwanyuka (Zimbabwe member representative)
Photos from the launch event can be found HERE.
CSIA Terms and Conditions