I write to inform you of several important decisions taken at the most recent International Council meeting held in Toronto, Canada on 20 and 21 September 2018.
As advised previously, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Toronto on 19 September 2018, the vast majority of members who voted approved all the resolutions put forward. The result was a pleasing outcome as these changes now complete the Council’s strategy to set the Institute on a new path that will be positive for the future.
The changes will now go before the Privy Council for its final consent which will allow us to begin repositioning the Institute’s brand more around governance and to introduce the new name The Chartered Governance Institute. As these changes require a Supplemental Charter, we have been advised by the Privy Council that this more protracted process will take longer and well into 2019 before we can formally introduce the new name.
I would like to thank all members that took advantage of the live streaming of the AGM. The Institute was fortunate to have the AGM live streamed with the compliments of West Corporation and we expect to do the same in the future. Whilst the time zone for Toronto did not suit everyone, a recording of the AGM is available on the icsaglobal website.
I would also like to thank members that voted and those who engaged with the Institute in face to face meetings, directly in writing or on social media. My colleagues on International Council and myself very much appreciated your comments and feedback and we will be reviewing various ideas and issues arising from this engagement.
A final note of appreciation is due to the Canada division for hosting the members’ reception and all assistance rendered in relation to the AGM and Council meeting.
(a) New qualifying programmes
The Council received an update on each division’s plans for introducing the new qualifying programmes. It is gratifying to see that many divisions will introduce the new qualifying programmes from 1 January 2019 and that all divisions would have implemented the new programmes by mid-2020.
A number of divisions have commenced their marketing of the new qualifying programmes and are reporting encouraging interest from potential students. I would urge all members to disseminate information on these new programmes so that aspiring Chartered Secretaries and Chartered Governance Professionals are aware of the changes.
(b) New name, logo and brand position of the Institute
With the upcoming introduction of the new name, substantial work has gone into the visual identity of the Institute as well as its mission and values. As many members would know, the nine divisions of the Institute each might have a different name, look and feel, but we share the same set of values and mission. Each division has evolved in its own way to meet the needs of its region whilst at the same time qualifying and supporting Chartered Secretaries and Chartered Governance Professionals in a uniform manner.
As has been communicated to members, the change of the Institute’s name will only apply to the International Institute, and it will be up to divisions as to whether they change their division name or the name of their local service company. Having said this, there was considerable interest from a number of divisions in moving to the new name and brand and so it is likely that over time a greater convergence could emerge.
(c) Longer term strategy
A significant portion of the Council meeting was devoted to longer-term strategic issues, in particular how to create greater synergy within the nine divisions and what activities the International Institute can undertake to support the new brand.
The first initiative will be a conference to be held in Beijing, China that will be a partnership between the Hong Kong/China division and the International Institute. Four themes would be included in the conference agenda: globalisation, stakeholders, risk and finally technology. The conference will be an excellent opportunity to ‘introduce’ the International Institute and its strategic priorities to an audience that may not be entirely familiar with what it stands for and what it does.
Council also gave serious consideration to an international conference to be held sometime in the future, once the new name had been approved by the Privy Council. We shall update members when more information is available.
(d) Memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI)
I am pleased to advise that the ICSA has reached agreement with the ICSI to refresh a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that dates back to 1998. The MOU enables members of each institute to join the other institute with minimal requirements for further study as it recognises the quality and standing of each other’s members.
The two organisations have always worked together to qualify professionals to be company secretaries and since the 1998 MOU, over 1,500 members of the two organisations have taken advantage of the arrangement. This refreshed MOU takes into account the new qualifying programmes of both organisations and also allows members of the ICSI to study with the ICSA division of their choice.
An international intern exchange programme is in the planning stage. Under the plan, it is envisaged that interns (undergraduate students aspiring to be our members and Institute students and young members) would have the opportunity to work in an overseas jurisdiction for 6-8 weeks during the summer months after having spent 2-4 weeks with an employer in their home base. The scheme utilises the strengths of the Institute’s global network and focus on education and is expected to be rolled out across divisions that wish to participate.
As was reported earlier, the PSC has now fundamentally altered the way it assesses a division’s capacity to deliver the qualifying programmes. The PSC has now implemented a Quality Assurance (QA) framework approach that gives greater guidance to divisions, with commensurate expectations.
After the PSC’s March meeting, one division was approved to offer the new qualifying programme under the new QA framework and now after this September meeting, five other divisions have been approved under the new framework.
Preliminary work has also been undertaken to encourage greater collaboration between divisions on student support services. It has been well recognised that improved pass rates can be achieved when students receive well-structured learning and study support. We hope to report on progress on this after the March 2019 meeting.
The Council also received a report on the work of the Thought Leadership Committee (TLC). The Committee was set up at the end of 2016 to provide a forum for the International Institute to develop ideas and thinking on governance issues of global importance.
As members would be aware, this year, three significant papers have emerged from the work of the committee: 21st Century AGM; Futureproofing: the role of the company secretary and a report on stewardship codes. There are a number of other topics being considered by the TLC including board diversity and director accountability.
I would also like to advise that council member How Yee Loh from our Singapore division has been appointed by the International Council to assume the role of Chair of the TLC. I was honoured to be the inaugural chair and am pleased to be able to hand the reigns over to How Yee as the committee moves from strength to strength.
As is the case at all Council meetings, one division is invited to give a presentation on the environment in which it operates in, the challenges it faces and its plans for the future. On this occasion, the UKRIAT division gave a presentation.
There is an excellent story to tell when examining the last several years of the Institute in the UK and its territories. Over the last five or so years the division has completely revamped its education and training offerings, established a recognised successful conference in a very crowded market in London, re-energised its branch structure, significantly improved its contribution to government policy formation and turned around the decline in membership so that it is now on a path to growth. This has not been an easy task and congratulations are in order for the UK Committee, Simon Osborne their Chief Executive and all the staff of the division.
Over the last several months I have been fortunate to represent the International Institute at a number of major events held by our divisions. In July I attended the Malaysian division’s annual conference, to deliver the key note speech as well as make a presentation and participate as a panellist in a session. The conference was well attended with over 400 participants.
In August, I was invited to speak at the Chartered Secretaries Southern African division’s Premier Corporate Governance Conference with the topic “Management and Corporate Governance: Hands on or Hand Cuffed”. The conference was attended by over 200 participants.
In the same month, I was also invited to speak at the Zimbabwe division’s annual dinner on ICSA impetus and governance tools, and to meet council and staff members.
In October, I was delighted to be the officiating guest-of-honour for the convocation of the Hong Kong/China division, witnessing the admission of 72 fellows, 324 associates and 66 graduates.
At the end of the same month, I updated members of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (WCCSA) and UKRIAT division at the Guildhall in London on the occasion of my becoming a liveryman of WCCSA.
I would like to thank all my colleagues on the International Council for their hard work and time freely given for the benefit of our membership and in particular to my Vice Presidents Peter Turnbull (Australia) and Jill Parratt (Southern Africa), as well as David Venus (Immediate Past-President), Frank Bush (Chair of PSC) and John Heaton (UKRIAT) who serve on our Executive Committee. We are also appreciative of all those members who serve on divisional Councils or sit on branch committees throughout the world. We are grateful to the Director General, Tim Sheehy, as well as our Institute Secretary Simon Osborne and to all of the staff in our nine divisions who have worked so closely with their members to generate support for these recent new initiatives.
The aim of the international Institute must be to sustain and accelerate the progress we have made, to support the work of the divisions, to enhance the reputation and reach of the Institute, and to continue the facilitation of best governance practice throughout the world. I am confident we are moving firmly in the right direction.
Edith Shih FCIS FCS(PE)