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Taking The Pulse of The Boardroom Against London 2012

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Chairmen of FTSE-100 companies appear to be losing their faith in the UK government's economic policy, according to a survey by headhunters Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann. Its 'Boardroom Pulse' survey has found that there is 'a 50/50 split amongst FTSE-100 Chairmen on whether the Government is striking the right balance between driving growth and tackling the budget deficit."

Unsurprisingly, there is also great concern about the threat of the disintegration of the Eurozone, with "87% factoring a potential collapse into their scenario planning as a critical risk to their business." I wonder how that is making itself felt in meetings in the boardroom. It isn't a subject I imagine the average NED appointed a few years ago can just take in their stride.

I haven't read it all, but there's a useful recent paper by Korn Ferry/W Mann on 'What makes  exceptional independent non-executive directors - it has a foreword by Mary Francis which for my money means it must be worth a look, and you can access it here.

As for shareholders having binding votes on executive pay only 29% of the Chairmen were in favour....one foot forward, several steps back on governance unless the government works harder at persuasion ?

I chaired a roundtable around the 'role of the shareholder' for the ICSA the other day, and the nitty gritty of how to go about engaging shareholders and also dealing with voting in particular was a hot topic. My lips are sealed on that particular event but it coincided with the launch of Professor John Kay's review, all 40,000 words of it.

The Kay Review of UK equity markets and long-term decision making is here  - although not everyone agrees on how realistically it can be implemented.

Which all sounds a bit like 'Keep Calm and Muddle On' against a backdrop of more depressing economic news for the UK. But we could probably do without a steady feed of criticism from our cousins across the pond, starting with Mitt Romney, who clearly hadn't bargained for Boris Johnson, London's mayor when he suggested that London was 'not ready' for the Olympics. 

The opening ceremony of London 2012 suggested otherwise, and the Olympics are  a welcome distraction, with women leading the way on the medals....  across nationality and country, very good to see. 

But there is a strong 'anti-Britain' streak in the American coverage, which seems a bit odd.

Even more worrying are the comments made by senior executives in banking and other sectors suggesting that London's reputation is now one of 'wanting heads on spikes' and therefore London is a place to be avoided - see FT analysis 'London's precarious position' by Patrick Jenkins and Brooke Masters today which you can access here if you have FT.com. 

It looks as if finding the right balance of good governance and regulation is more important than it has been for a long time - and  Britain needs to state its values loud and clear, for both domestic and international consumption. The nature of Bob Diamond's eviction may not have been ideal, but his departure was overdue. Those making the greatest 'loud noise' at recent events may just be afraid they have money to lose if the financial sector is cleaned up. Team GB needs the courage of its convictions - and of course, to remember to act as a team.

Categories: Governance, Chairmen, Stewardship