SingTel board member Kai Nargolwala (above) and Mrs Fang Ai Lian, who is on the boards of MediaCorp and SingTel, were among those who attended the SCGCentre's Programme for Enhancing Board Stewardship. -- PHOTOS: ST FILE, GREAT EASTERN
CORPORATE board directors are devoting more attention to reviewing their responsibilities as a new regime for corporate governance nears.
The revised code, which comes into effect for financial years starting Nov 1 or later, is designed to spur listed companies to become more transparent and accountable.
With the deadline approaching, executives have been getting to grips with the new code's demands.
Directors of more than 30 Singapore companies, including several that are listed, recently spent two days in closed-door discussions facilitated by the Stewardship and Corporate Governance Centre.
The SCGCentre, a Temasek initiative, was launched last September with the aim of lifting the level of corporate governance.
The centre's first Programme for Enhancing Board Stewardship - developed specifically for the experienced director - offered fresh insights into the latest trends and practices in governance.
SingTel board member Kai Nargolwala said: 'It's useful to assemble similar experienced board members for dialogue and to exchange approaches.
'Most of the answers to frequently asked questions are already residing in the room. The ideas and knowledge sharing were most helpful.'
Participants discussed governance issues, such as the value of their role as directors if they are to contribute to the success of their companies.
Tiger Airways board member Maurice De Vaz noted: 'Companies at different stages of development may have different needs on board composition, although a good chairman and a good board are essential at all times.
'One of the useful tips I learnt is, when asked to join a board, you need to ask, ?Why me?' That was a very thoughtful part of the discussions.'
There was agreement that boards should increase their focus on risk management while continuing to develop a competitive business strategy.
SIA Engineering director Andrew Lim said: 'Board members, like myself, have to ask: If I were held accountable, what would I do? In risk management, for example, it cannot be just talk. Clear views and accountability are needed to make the process work.'
The shared conclusion at the end of the discussions was that a lot more is going to be demanded and expected of board directors.
Mrs Fang Ai Lian, who is on the boards of Media- Corp and SingTel, said: 'Management will always do their best to take an inside view, and support it by key indicators; the board adds to the much-needed outside view and the macro connections.
'Outcomes have to be monitored; often, the continued follow-up can be improved.'
The SCGCentre plans to repeat the Programme for Enhancing Board Stewardship before the end of the year.