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Best Corporate Governance Awards 2017 invites entries

13 July 2017

Good corporate governance remains fundamental for Hong Kong and for the long-term sustainability of businesses

 

(HONG KONG, 13 July 2017) The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants today invites companies and organizations in the private and public sectors to submit entries for Best Corporate Governance Awards 2017, a highly regarded event on the corporate governance scene in Hong Kong. The Awards play an important role in establishing benchmarks and encouraging improvements in the quality of corporate governance in the Hong Kong market. The deadline for entries is 14 August 2017.

 

New category introduced

"The Awards are now in their 18th year and they continue to progress and develop just as the market itself continues to evolve. This year we have introduced a new category within the broad group of Non-Hang Seng Index-constituent companies, for medium market capitalization companies. We hope that when companies see that they are being assessed against their peers, this will give them greater incentive to take steps to raise their corporate governance standard. Good governance practices can help them achieve their long-term strategic objectives and protect the interests of shareholders and stakeholders", says Mabel Chan, President of HKICPA and Chair of Judging Panel for 2017 Awards.

 

Hong Kong needs to remain vigilant and maintain standards

The recent market activity and volatility in Hong Kong highlighted the importance to the market and the reputation of the market of sound governance, and the pitfalls and risks for investors if they do not give sufficient weight to this facet of a company's performance. Maintaining high standards of corporate governance is vital to safeguard the public interest and sustain a healthy business environment for market development.

 

While Hong Kong has one of the highest standards in the region, we cannot afford to be complacent, says Chan. "Many other markets are making concerted efforts to strengthen their own corporate governance regimes and are looking to increase the size of their capital markets and their share of investment business." In some areas they may be progressing faster than Hong Kong. This underlines the need for strong governance, not only in the private sector but the public sector. Hong Kong should always keep one eye on monitoring developments elsewhere and ensure that it continues to adopt best practices in terms of market developments and regulation.

 

Governance culture supports Hong Kong's development as a financial centre

Recently, a number of developments have taken place that have helped boost Hong Kong's position as a financial centre and China's window on the world for financial market trading. The Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Connects and, very recently, the Bond Connect, initiatives have facilitated market trading between Hong Kong and Mainland China. Hong Kong has also joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. These developments highlight Hong Kong's essential role in international and regional finance. At the same time they remind us of the qualities and characteristics that have made Hong Kong a success and which we must preserve. The high standards of governance and of the legal and regulatory systems are key reasons that foreign investors are confident to invest in the Mainland market through Hong Kong and the Stock and Bond Connects. This calls for strong corporate governance and effective market regulation, which in turn provide more predictability and a better basis for decision making by investors.

 

Themes in 2017 Awards

Key themes in this year's competition are reflected in the accolades that we will be giving out, says Derek Broadley, Chairman of the 2017 Awards Organizing Committee. "In addition to the new category for mid-size non-HSI companies, this year, we will be giving out commendations for: (i) internal control and risk management; (ii) board and audit committee operations; and (iii) website corporate governance information. These awards aim to recognize and encourage organizations that have performed strongly in fundamental areas of corporate governance practices, including transparency, but whose all-round performance may not yet have reached the standard necessary to win one of the main category awards." The organizing committee hopes that some new winners will emerge through these commendations and that the efforts of businesses that are making positive, incremental changes to their corporate governance can be recognized.

 

Broadley explains why these three areas of corporate governance are so important. Corporate governance standards and expectations are not static. They continue to develop and progress and this is reflected in changes to regulatory requirements. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has quite recently upgraded the minimum internal control and risk management requirements under the Corporate Governance Code, which apply to the reporting period under review in the 2017 Awards. The Institute has built on this platform to revise its own assessment criteria in this area. "These changes are important because effective risk management and internal control are cornerstones of a sustainable business. They provide one indicator of a well-managed company and from an investor's perspective, they minimize the risk of unpleasant surprises happening to a company."

 

The award on board and audit committee operation and functioning recognizes the fundamental importance of the board in determining the strategy, direction and, indeed, the governance of an entity; and the critical role of the audit committee in providing an independent review and oversight of financial reporting, among other things. The assessments will look at, e.g., the quality of information about roles and responsibilities, background and experience of directors, work done, attendance at meetings and training. It will also cover other areas of increasing interest such as board diversity.

 

As regards the use of websites, nowadays, more and more investors and the general public expect to obtain information online. At the same time more companies are making use of their websites to keep the market informed and up to date. The community will rely more on web-based information as markets progressively go paperless.

 

Another area, sustainability and social responsibility reporting will continue to be a very important part of the overall competition in 2017. There was immediate interest when the first overall award for sustainability and social responsibility reporting was introduced in 2011. Chan explains, "Since then, the SSR Awards, as we call them, have gone from strength to strength and the judges have found listed companies of all sizes, Mainland enterprises, as well as public sector organizations whose efforts in this area have been recognized."

 

The Stock Exchange has upgraded its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Guide at Appendix 27 to the Main Board listing rules and Appendix 20 to the GEM listing rules. This has been taken into account in the assessment criteria for our sustainability and social responsibility reporting awards. "There is a growing realization among the better-managed listed companies that social and environmental performance is integral to their whole business and to the long-term success of the company. The same can be said of public sector organizations," says Chan.

 

As for the Significant Improvement Awards, the Institute plans to adopt a self-nomination approach for these. Organizations that have taken substantive steps to improve their corporate governance practices and disclosures are encouraged to put themselves forward for consideration. Shortlisted candidates may be invited for an interview. "The organizing committee believes that those companies that have made positive efforts to uplift their corporate governance standard are more likely to want to make that known to the market," states Broadley.

 

The Institute has been in the forefront of corporate governance advocacy over the past two decades and has been setting the benchmarks for the best standards in the Hong Kong listed company sector since the Awards were launched in 2000. It was also among the first to appreciate that good governance in public sector is just as important as in the private sector, given the key role that public sector organizations play in the community, including the regulation of financial markets and the provision of essential public services. The Institute's Awards have included a public sector category since the beginning.

 

Awards categories

More than 20 awards are expected to be given out, including Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards in six categories; awards for significant improvement; sustainability and social responsibility reporting; commendations for internal control and risk management, board and audit committee operation and functioning, and website corporate governance information; as well as special mentions for other good performances. All the awards will be selected through stringent judging criteria and review procedures, representing a benchmark for best corporate governance standards in Hong Kong.

 

"In addition to reviewing company websites and other information, we expect a total of over 700 annual and sustainability reports to be reviewed this year," adds Broadley.

 

The entrants are judged by their latest published annual report for financial years ending between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017 for the listed companies categories; and between 31 December 2015 and 31 March 2017 for the public sector/not-for-profit category.

 

This year’s Awards are supported by nine media partners – Now BNC, the monthly business magazine Capital, the weekly business magazine iMoney, newspaper Hong Kong Economic Times and South China Morning Post, radio Metro Finance, and online media etnet, Finet and FinTV.

 

Information on the Awards is available on the Institute website at http://www.hkicpa.org.hk

 

 

Brochure and entry form

 

 

二零一七年度最佳企業管治大獎現正接受報名

 

良好企業管治是香港成功的基石 有助促進經濟長遠可持續發展

 

(香港,二零一七年七月十三日)由香港會計師公會主辦的「二零一七年度最佳企業管治大獎」,現正接受公私營企業及機構報名,此項大獎為香港最備受尊崇的企業管治殊榮。大獎在為香港建立良好企業管治基準及推動企管質素進步方面,擔當重要角色。大獎的截止報名日期為二零一七年八月十四日

 

大獎新類別

公會會長暨2017年大獎評審團主席陳美寶女士表示,大獎今年踏入第十八年,緊貼着市場的發展一直向前。公會今年特別新增「非恆指成分股公司—中市值」組別,希望藉著同業間的互相借鏡,令企業更有動力提升管治水平。良好的企業管治,有助公司機構達致長遠策略目標,及保障股東和其他持份者的利益。

 

香港需保持警覺並維持高標準之企業管治

近日,本港資本市場出現波動,顯示了良好管治對市場和其聲譽的重要性,同時亦反映出如果投資者沒有充分檢視公司在這方面的表現,可能會帶來的潛在風險。因此,企業必須維持高水平的企業管治,以保障公眾利益,建立有利於市場持續發展的商業環境。

 

陳女士表示,雖然本港的企業管治是區內最高水平的地方之一,但不能因此自滿,「其他地區的市場正為加強企業管治不斷作出改進,並正在擴大其資本市場及投資市場的規模。」在某些方面,他們的進展可能比香港更快,這充分說明了無論是公、私營機構,優良的管治均非常重要,而香港亦應關注其他地方的發展情況,確保在市場發展和監管方面繼續採用最佳實務。

 

管治文化鞏固香港金融中心地位

最近推行的多項經濟發展,有助推動香港作為國際金融中心及內地與國際金融市場間的橋樑的角色。滬港與深港股票市場交易互聯互通機制試點、香港與內地債券市場互聯互通合作(債券通)「北向通」的開通,以及香港加入亞洲基礎設施投資銀行,均促進了香港與國內的市場交易、提升了香港在國際及區域金融的地位及角色,亦提醒了我們要繼續保持本港取得成功的要素。高水平的管治、法治及監管制度,均是海外投資者有信心透過香港的滬港通、深港通及債券通投資內地市場的重要因素,而這些均需要良好的管治及有效的市場監管,不但可令投資者預測市場情況, 更提供多些資訊給他們在作出重要決定前參考。

 

2017大獎主題

2017 年大獎籌委會主席 Derek Broadley 先生指,今年大獎的主題能在即將頒發的殊榮中反映出來。「今年大獎除了新增『非恆指成分股公司—中市值』組別,亦繼續設有強調優良企管實務的三大獎項,分別為內部監控和風險管理、董事會和審計委員會運作和職能,以及網上傳遞管治資訊。雖然有些機構的整體表現未必能贏得主要類別的大獎,但這些獎項可表彰及鼓勵在企業管治的基礎範疇作出改進的機構,如加強透明度。」籌委會期望,這些特別獎項能產生新的得獎者,讓他們為改善企業管治方面作出的努力得到認同。

 

Broadley 先生解釋以上三個企業管治範疇的重要性,指出企業管治水平及期望並非一成不變,反而會不斷發展及進步,這點從監管要求的改變上便反映出來。香港交易所近期在《企業管治守則》中提高了對內部監控和風險管理的最低要求,而 2017年大獎的年報審閱將會涵蓋相關轉變,有關方面的評審準則亦因而有所修訂,「這些轉變是重要的,因為有效的風險管理及內部監控是可持續發展企業的基石,這除了能顯示一間公司是否管理完善,在投資者的角度而言,還能減低一間公司出現突發性負面影響的風險。」

 

董事會和審計委員會運作和職能的相關獎項,確認董事會在制訂公司策略及方向、整體管治,以及審計委員會在獨立審閱和監督財務報告等多方面的重要性。評審團會就披露資料的質素,包括例如董事的角色和權責、背景和經驗、工作、出席會議和培訓情況,以及就投資者愈發關注的董事會多元化加以審視。

 

針對網頁的使用現況,愈來愈多投資者及普羅大眾希望從網上取得資訊,同時愈來愈多公司會透過網站向市場發放最新訊息。隨著市場走向「無紙化」,可見將來社會將愈加依賴網上資訊。

 

在另一範疇,可持續發展及企業社會責任報告獎將繼續成為今屆大獎的重要一環。這個獎項在2011年設立,是首個與可持續發展及企業社會責任報告直接相關的獎項,獲得市場廣泛的關注。陳女士表示:「這個獎項自設立至今愈來愈成功,評審團亦對各規模的上市公司、內地企業以及公營機構頒發獎項,表揚他們在此方面有明顯進步。」

 

香港交易所將《環境、社會及管治報告指引》放到主板上市規則附錄二十七及創業板上市規則附錄二十,這亦是評選可持續發展和社會責任報告獎時的一大標準。陳女士續指:「愈來愈多高水平的公私營機構均意識到,制定良好的環境及社會責任政策對企業的整體業務和長遠發展有利。」

 

公會採用公司機構自我提名機制,鼓勵那些已就改善管治的實務和披露採取了顯著措施的公司機構參加「最佳進步獎」,候選公司或會獲邀出席面試。Broadley 先生表示:「籌委會相信,這些公司機構對提升企業管治水平作出了積極努力,他們會希望藉此獎項被市場認同。」

 

公會於過去二十年一直向本地機構倡導良好企業管治,而自2000 年起主辦的「最佳企業管治大獎」,更為上市公司奠定卓越典範的基準。自舉辦大獎開始,公會已將公營機構納入其中一個參賽類別,是首個認為公營與私營機構同樣需要優越企業管治方針的大獎。公營機構在社會中擔當著重要角色,例如監管金融市場和提供必須的公共服務。

 

獎項類別

今年大獎預料可頒發逾二十個獎項,其中包括六個組別的鑽石、白金及金獎;最佳進步獎、可持續發展及企業社會責任報告獎;在內部監控和風險管理、董事會及審計委員會的運作和職能,以及網上傳遞管治資訊等範疇表現出色的嘉獎,以及特別嘉許獎。所有獎項均經過嚴謹評選標準及程序選出,實為本港最佳企業管治水平公認的典範。

 

Broadley先生指出:「除了檢視公司網站及其他相關資訊外,預計今屆評審團會審閱逾700本年報及可持續發展報告。」

 

大會將評審參選上市公司於201641日至2017331日財政年度所發佈的最新年報;而公營/非牟利類別則以20151231日至2017331日為準。

 

公會今年邀得Now財經台、月刊《資本雜誌》、周刊《智富雜誌》、日報《經濟日報》、《南華早報》、電台新城財經台及網絡媒體etnetFinetFinTV九間傳媒夥伴,協助大獎的宣傳及推廣工作。

 

有關最佳企業管治大獎的詳情,請瀏覽公會的網頁:www.hkicpa.org.hk

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