Governance Watch - Issue 56

Governance Watch - Issue 56

GDPR Bites

Investors might consider this to be a good time to invest in cyber security and cyber insurance, as it is clear that data breaches are about to become real and painful for business under the punitive powers of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. (GDPR). The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has signalled its intent to use the new law in force from May 25, 2018 which takes the previous maximum fine of £500,000 under the Data Protection Act 1998 into a new realm altogether – a maximum of 4% of a company’s annual global revenue.  

Governance Watch - Issue 55

Governance Watch - Issue 55

The Accountability Horizon

One of the most important and complicated issues in the quest for better corporate governance is having a sense of where accountability sits on the horizon of the strategic business plan. Short-term thinking still plagues many a listed business, as Deutsche Bank appears to have demonstrated. The Financial Times reported earlier this week that it is to set up a €50bn ‘bad bank’ as part of an overhaul. But if you look back over the last six years or more at the governance, you might wonder at what has been discussed for years in its boardrooms.

Governance Watch - Issue 54

Governance Watch - Issue 54

Inequality 

OECD figures suggest that the UK has among the highest levels of income inequality in the European Union (as measured by the Gini coefficient), although income inequality is lower than in the United States, says a research briefing from the UK Parliament in March 2019. This week the think-tank the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) announced the IFS Deaton Review, a major five-year investigation into whether there is a systemic bias in the country towards inequality. It has enormous implications for our thinking on a wide range of things, from public policy to societal behaviour and to the design of corporate governance and attitude to corporate behaviour.

Governance Watch - Issue 53

Governance Watch - Issue 53

Limbo and Further Limbo

Endless Brexit uncertainty was always going to be bad for corporate governance in the United Kingdom. But on one level, it seems it can be big business. The Financial Times reports that asset managers have paid UK politicians an awful lot of money for speeches and advice over the past year, to help with investment decisions. 

Governance Watch - Issue 52

Governance Watch - Issue 52

Change and Evolution

Beware the Ides of March, as they can prove to be treacherous. At a time when Britain appears ever more deeply mired in political stasis over the Brexit vote, we have also seen a steady roll-out of government reforms to improve corporate governance and the running of our businesses. The aim is to restore trust in business and its place in society, although ironically the Edelman Trust Barometer of 2019 shows that the British public trusts business far more than it trusts the government – as mentioned in the last Governance Watch.

If these reforms are now seen not to deliver real change, the threads of that trust will scatter on the chilly wind.

Governance Watch - Issue 51

Governance Watch - Issue 51

Corporate stewardship 

In 2019, UK business needs to be particularly watchful. The Corporate Governance Code has been revised and  the UK Stewardship Code is in consultation with its creator, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the regulator currently with an uncertain remit

Celebrating 50 issues of Governance Watch

Celebrating 50 issues of Governance Watch

We’ve just celebrated our 50th issue of Governance Watch, written by Dina Medland and we’ve learnt many things from covering the news.  Governance Watch started as a simple idea – to give anyone involved with boardrooms, a place to read and digest the latest articles and headlines in one place. It’s important for people who shape corporate governance to consider the wider business landscape and to stay informed with events that may affect their decisions.

Governance Watch - Issue 50

Governance Watch - Issue 50

Diversity, Inclusion and Progression

We are more than half way into January, and when it comes to politics, the New Year feels very much like the old one. Facing multiple challenges around technological transformation, skills shortages and changing consumer aspirations, much of British business has been tearing its hair out on the uncertainty around Brexit for over two years. During that period the UK government has, in its pursuit of best practice and the lure of Britain for business and investment, taken many steps to raise the bar on corporate governance. 

Governance Watch - Issue 49

Governance Watch - Issue 49

Raising That Bar: Corporate Governance

Britain is ending a turbulent and frustrating year around its referendum decision to exit the European Union on a good note when it comes to corporate governance, in which it leads the world. 

Governance Watch - Issue 48

Governance Watch - Issue 48

Executive Pay: Context is Critical

The socio-economic climate of Brexit has made boardroom pay - already a topic regularly simmered and stirred in the United Kingdom across a broad range of stakeholders – into rich ground for politicians.

Governance Watch - Issue 47

Governance Watch - Issue 47

Diversity:  Gender, BAME and Power

Men in Britain might be playing up achievements in appointing women to positions of power, responsibility and leadership in business boardrooms and beyond, but most women will tell you (at least privately), that they think very little has changed in terms of the barriers to gender diversity.

Governance Watch - Issue 46

Governance Watch - Issue 46

Conflict of interest

The Patisserie Valerie saga, covered in the last Governance Watch, is the story that just keeps on giving on corporate governance. 

The Chief and CFO had “second helpings of shares despite no explanation from the chain” reported the Financial Times, following up with a report about £2.9m made from bonus share schemes, and then the company’s admission that it had awarded these bonuses without informing shareholders.  

Governance Watch - Issue 45

Governance Watch - Issue 45

Accounting 

It has been only a week since first media reports on the goings-on at Patisserie Valerie, which said it had discovered "significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities" and a £1 million unpaid tax bill. We were told: "The board has now reached the conclusion that there is a material shortfall between the reported financial status and the current financial status of the business." It thrust Chairman Luke Johnson, CEO Paul May, Finance Director Chris Marsh and auditors Grant Thornton into the spotlight.

Governance Watch - Issue 44

Governance Watch - Issue 44

Regulation: No ‘race to the bottom’

The uncertainty around Brexit has resulted in heightened media scrutiny of contrasting comments about what might happen to regulation in order to keep Britain “competitive.” 

Governance Watch - Issue 43

Governance Watch - Issue 43

Action, Not Words

This is the new mantra, aimed at British business and being chanted at it from all directions: ‘Action, Not Words’ (as noted in the last Governance Watch) when it comes to gender progression, ethnic representation and inclusion. 

Governance Watch - Issue 42

Governance Watch - Issue 42

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are essential for economic growth in a multi-cultural society. Many of Britain’s businesses are still struggling with this basic truth, trying to play catch-up with the urgency of the issue by shrouding it in definitions, and re-definitions. Should we call it diversity or should we call it inclusion? Actually, we need to put the two together with equality of opportunity via structural change, in the pursuit of better corporate governance and productive, responsible businesses.

Governance Watch - Issue 41

Governance Watch - Issue 41

Challenges

As we approach the end of a summer of discontent in the UK, business confidence is at its lowest in 2018, according to a survey by the Institute of Directors (IOD). The risks of a no-deal Brexit range from the impact on the NHS and the entire pharmaceutical industry to implications for more than €100 bn of European bank debt issued under English law. A ‘no-deal’ impact paper on financial services is among those listed to be published on Thursday

Governance Watch - Issue 40

Governance Watch - Issue 40

Kingman Review

The consultation period for the independent review led by Sir John Kingman into the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the UK’s accounting regulator and corporate governance watchdog, has just closed. It is intended to help ensure that the FRC’s role and powers are fit for the future and has come after years of accountancy in the media headlines for all the wrong reasons. 

Governance Watch - Issue 39

Governance Watch - Issue 39

Critical Data Deficit

The failure of many FTSE 100 businesses to capture and disclose key workforce data is providing an incomplete picture of key business indicators, according to research just out from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. It has looked at how workforce reporting has changed over the last five years and explores how transparent organisations are being about risks and opportunities relating to the workforce.

Governance Watch - Issue 38

Governance Watch - Issue 38

Data

There is irony in the timing of a £500,000 fine levied on Facebook today by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for two breaches of the Data Protection Act in the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. The breaches occurred before the latest European General Data Protection (GDPR) came into effect in May, therefore the £500,000 cap is one set by the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998.