I write to inform you of certain important decisions taken at the most recent international Council meeting held in Taipei, Taiwan on 27 and 28 March 2019.
(a) New name, logo and brand position for the international Institute
Following member approval at the September 2018 AGM to change the name of the international Institute to The Chartered Governance Institute, as well as other changes to the Charter & byelaws, there has been substantial progress in securing the granting of the Supplemental Charter that will give effect to these changes. The Institute has been advised that the formal approval processes have been completed and the final steps revolve around the printing and sealing of the Supplemental Charter. Nevertheless, there could be a number of months before all is finalised. The current intention is to formally ‘launch’ the new name and brand of the international Institute sometime in September/October and to spearhead this with a broad marketing programme. The international Institute’s vision is to be the leader in the practice of governance around the world and our mission is to become a guiding light in governance. We will be the best advocates, the best educators and the most active organisation in the promotion of good governance internationally. The launch of the new brand position recognises that the scope of our profession has changed. The Institute can and will look beyond the title of company secretary and recognise fully the changing roles and responsibilities in the world of governance. We are conscious we need to retain and support existing members. But we also need to appeal to new and potential members, as well as the wider business community. It is essential we remain relevant and the new name and brand position will allow the Institute to do this. Our new name positions us as the membership organisation for anyone involved in governance…and the only one that is Chartered. It is self-explanatory, says who we are, but retains the historical reference and status of ‘Institute’. Most importantly, the new name continues the mark of quality and high standards that have defined us for over 125 years… the word ‘Chartered’. I urge you to keep an eye out for further announcements in this regard either directly from myself or from your local division.
(b) Longer term strategy
A significant portion of the Council meeting was devoted to how to create greater synergy within the nine divisions, what activities the international Institute can undertake to support the new brand and how the international Institute can provide leadership in practically demonstrating it can be the best advocate, the best educator and the most active organisation in the promotion of good governance internationally.
(c) Memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, signed last year, is now active with a number of divisions having received enquiries and enrolments. The ICSA and the ICSI 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.
As was reported last year, the Professional Standards Committee (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. Five of the nine divisions are now fully accredited under the new system and review dates had been set to provide PSC with a staggered workload to deal with two per year. It was hoped that the remaining four divisions would produce documentation ready for consideration in October 2019. Further 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.
The Council also received a report on the work of the Thought Leadership Committee (TLC). Earlier this year the committee released its first 2019 report: Minute taking practice: a comparative study. Four more topics are in development and are ongoing, for example, reports on the wider issues of diversity on boards as well as the role of a Chartered Governance Professional in regard to sustainability. Due to work commitments How Yee Low FCIS advised that he would be stepping down from the Committee for Singapore and would therefore also step down from the International Council. Peter Greenwood has been appointed by Council as his successor as Chair of the TLC. On behalf of all members of Council I would like to express our gratitude to How Yee for his excellent stewardship of the TLC during his tenure.
At all Council meetings one division makes a presentation. The Australian division gave a presentation on the environment in which it operates, the challenges it faces and its plans for the future. The Australian division explained the somewhat crowded market they were operating in, despite being a well-established organisation. The membership structure had changed rapidly in the last 10 years with 30% Chartered Secretaries and a broad spread across sectors. However, the membership was ageing, and the division needed to continue to convince people of their relevance and value. The division was innovative in the delivery of its qualifying programme as well as offering a wide range of short courses on governance, risk management and compliance. Governance and corporate culture were very key issues in Australia at present and this provided a very good platform for the Australian division to progress.
Immediately following the Council meeting in Taipei, the Hong Kong/China division hosted a conference for the emerging company secretaries of Taiwan, with members from the Hong Kong/China division as well as international Council participating as speakers and panellists collaborating with local experts in governance issues common to Taiwan and international jurisdictions. I was honoured to open the conference and to welcome guests from Taiwan and around the world. The one-day conference, which was the first major international corporate governance conference in Taiwan, was attended by over 150 professionals and well received.
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 March 2019 Council meeting was also the final face-to-face meeting for Simon Osborne who has been the Chief Executive of the UKRIAT division as well as the Institute Secretary for the past eight years. Simon has been a steady hand during a period that has been both challenging, extremely busy but also rewarding and his counsel has been wise and appreciated. We are all grateful for his significant contribution.
Edith Shih FCIS FCS(PE)
9 May 2019