Higgs’ report draws praise and concern

Link: The Higgs’ report

and Read about the FRC’s new code

The ICAEW said it welcomed both the publication of the Higgs’ report and the Smith report on audit committees, describing them as ‘worthwhile and measured contributions to the post-Enron debate’.

ICAEW president Peter Wyman said: ‘Their recommendations will improve and build on the UK’s combined code, which has worked well in the past.’

In particular, he said Derek Higgs’ recommendations would ‘bring about a subtle, but important, shift in the relationship between companies and their investors’.

But Wyman expressed some concern, saying care should be taken when implementing these changes so that they did not ‘undermine the unitary board which has enabled companies to benefit from the commercial experience of knowledgeable non-executive directors’.

There was also support from Big Four firm KPMG, but it warned of ‘significant churn in non-exec directorships in the coming months’ which would impact on the ‘pool of talent business can draw on’.

It also drew attention to the recommendation that a CEO should not become a chairman of the same company, which, it said, would require companies to re-examine their succession plans.

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators was more unanimous in its praise, calling it a ‘sophisticated agenda for greater professionalism in the boardroom.

The ICSA said: ‘The process of appointing non-executive directors will be formalised and made more transparent, challenging the old boy network. For the first time, the onus will be on the individual to assess that they have the skill set and time to undertake the job.

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