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The governance journey never ends

'Still room for improvement' seems to be the eternal status of governance.


IMPROVING corporate governance is an endeavour without conclusion.

Just as a business strives to grow more this year than it did in the previous year, there is always something that can be done better when it comes to corporate governance.

While previous years saw an emphasis among the corporate community on fundamentals such as compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance, in 2015 there was also a move towards taking a more holistic and longer-term view.

Sustainability was in the spotlight after the Singapore Exchange said it was carrying out a consultation into mandatory sustainability reporting. Board diversity was also a point of focus as the Diversity Action Committee shared its finding that the number and proportion of women directors was growing, but only at a crawl.

The fundamentals are still important, of course. The Governance and Transparency Index, which is run by the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations at the National University of Singapore, found an improvement in the quality of governance among Singapore-listed companies in 2014, although the compilers of the index found that there was still ample room for improvement.

"Still room for improvement" seems to be the eternal status of governance.

Investors are also finding themselves receiving a little more attention as advocates begin to think about the role that shareholders can and should play in helping to promote good corporate governance.

They may find help from the professionals, with the auditing profession preparing for the implementation of new standards that will require auditors to highlight "key audit matters" in their reports. The hope is that key audit matters will help stakeholders gain insight into the audit process for every company, and to focus on the important issues regarding the financial statements.

The work is never done, of course. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's recent review of financial statements showed that among companies where reporting issues were identified, directors deferred too much to management or did not take ownership of the financial statements.

The Exchange itself has just announced that it will be doing a review of companies' compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance and their explanations when they do not comply.

The bigger picture is that while corporate governance standards are constantly evolving, the general trend is for the bar to always be raised.


Singapore Corporate Governance Award

Big cap

DBS Group Holdings

Mid and small cap


Reits and business trusts

CapitaLand Mall Trust

Most improved

Casa Holdings


DBS Group Holdings

Neptune Orient Lines


Singapore Airlines

Singapore Telecommunications

Most Transparent Company Award

Sembcorp Industries

Midas Holdings

Yoma Strategic Holdings

Neptune Orient Lines

Super Group

Courts Asia


ComfortDelGro Corporation

DBS Group Holdings

City Developments

Ascendas Reit

Serial System

Neo Group

Soilbuild Construction Group

iFAST Corporation

Vard Holdings

DBS Group Holdings

Internal audit excellence award

SMRT Corporation

Best retail broker award

CIMB Securities (Singapore)

Financial journalist award

Cai Haoxiang

Anita Gabriel

Nicole Tan Shu Yin

Rachael Boon

Shen Yue