Day 1 Overview
08:15 Registration (outside The Waterloo Room)
10:45 Coffee Break (The Waterloo Room)
12:30 Lunch Buffet (The Waterloo Room)
13:30 Concurrent Workshops, Session 1
15:00 Coffee Break (The Waterloo Room)
15:30 Concurrent Workshops, Session 2
17:00 Cocktail Reception (The Waterloo Room)
Day 1 Programme
Coffee will be served.
09:00 – 09:15
Conference Opening (The Nash Room)
09:15 – 10:45
Plenary 1: CG reform in Asia – The next 10 years (The Nash Room)
An introduction to the glorious complexity of corporate governance in Asia and how the region differs from other developed markets. What started CG reform in Asia? How does the large body of often-changing governance and stewardship codes cohabit with more slowly moving and conservative corporate and political cultures across the region? Do opportunistic policy decisions, notably dual-class shares and SPACs, mean the end of market fairness and accountability? Should we be hopeful about sustainability governance, board diversity, and ESG reporting? Drawing on more than 20 years of ACGA independent research and thinking about corporate governance and ESG in Asia, we will give our views on what the next decade promises.
10:45 – 11:15
Coffee Break (The Waterloo Room)
11:15 – 12:30
Plenary 2: Are stewardship codes working in Asia? (The Nash Room)
A panel discussion on how investor stewardship codes, first introduced in the region in Japan in early 2014, have changed the dynamic between listed companies and investors. Where have codes flourished most successfully and why? Do codes need to be tailored more carefully for each market? Are there other limitations? How does collective engagement work in the region and what are some of the main challenges? With several codes being revised every few years, what does the next chapter look like?
ModeratorDevanesan Evanson, Chief Executive Officer, Minority Shareholders Watch Group (MSWG), Kuala Lumpur
12:30 – 13:30
Lunch Buffet (The Waterloo Room)
13:30 – 15:00
Stream A, Workshop 1: After Abe – charting a new way forward (The Burton Room)
The assassination of Shinzo Abe in summer 2022 marked a profoundly sad end for one of Japan’s greatest reforming prime ministers of recent decades. In power from 2012 to 2020, Abe presided over a structural and philosophical rethink of corporate governance and introduced policies thought impossible just a few years earlier. Part of his government’s genius was to link CG reform not to risk management—as in other markets where governance is a necessary corrective to excessive corporate risk taking—but to the long-term growth of corporate value and the revitalisation of an underperforming economy. Abe and his officials saw that Japan was part of an international capital market, which it had to meet half way. No more arguments about Japanese exceptionalism and special treatment. Indeed, under Abe, Japan led the way on some aspects of CG and ESG policy in Asia.
Despite Abe’s achievements, there remain many areas of unfinished business in ESG reform in Japan. This workshop will outline these challenges and debate the probability of progress under the current government of Fumio Kishida. There will also be an opportunity for delegates to participate in small group discussions and give your views on how Japan should proceed with its next stage of reform.
13:30 – 15:00
Stream B, Workshop 1: Company engagement with Asian characteristics (The Nash Room)
Investor efforts to engage listed companies in Asia have grown exponentially over the past decade. Key drivers include domestic stewardship codes, the responsible investment agendas of major institutions, and opportunities for activism created by corporate failure or mismanagement. What, if anything, makes Asia different? Why are some companies so much harder to engage with than others? Why are some markets so much tougher to engage in than others? We also explore the missing link—regulatory and policy advocacy.
This workshop will draw on ACGA’s experience in working with members since 2017 on collective engagement with listed companies, first in Japan and Korea and more recently in China and Hong Kong. How have engagement strategies evolved? What does our report card look like? What comes next?
15:00 – 15:30
Coffee Break (The Waterloo Room)
15:30 – 17:00
Stream A, Workshop 2: How is Asia getting ready for global sustainability reporting standards? (The Nash Room)
As the world gears up to welcome new sustainability reporting standards from the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), we take a look at how Asia is responding to the challenges posed. How do accounting and financial regulators, listed companies, auditors, investors and other stakeholders view the standards? What does each group need to do to prepare? Which markets are likely to lead the way? And how will the new ISSB standards align with existing ESG reporting guidelines in Asia?
While ISSB aims to set a “global baseline” for sustainability reporting, the draft standards produced to date—on general requirements and climate-related disclosure, both based on the TCFD framework and with a strong focus on enterprise value—already set a higher bar than most existing standards around the region. Leading markets in ESG reporting, such as Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, are beginning to promote or require the use of TCFD reporting, while Malaysia and Hong Kong are not too far behind. Although the region has made considerable progress over the past few years, there has been limited discussion to date of the importance of incorporating climate-related matters and potential impact on the financial statements.
This workshop will explore these developments and is designed to give delegates a thorough briefing on this important new aspect of corporate disclosure.
15:30 – 17:00
Stream B, Workshop 2: Crooks, kickbacks and cronyism – corruption and financial crime in Asia today (The Burton Room)
A funny thing happened on the way to the airport: famous Malaysian airline bribes Airbus officials, gets caught and fined in the UK, Europe and the US, but not a squeak is said at home. While such cross-border enforcement remains comparatively rare in the region, it is increasing and many of the highest profile anti-corruption cases have involved foreign agencies prosecuting Asian firms doing business overseas. This begs the question as to where were the domestic enforcement agencies? Where is the political will on graft? Do anti-corruption agencies have sufficient powers, autonomy and budgets to curb malpractice?
The evidence paints a somewhat rosier picture on the enforcement of securities crimes and market misconduct, especially in the region’s leading markets. But even here it is often hard to interpret where markets are making gains or sliding, since the statistics and narrative provided by securities regulators are often opaque. Corporate secrecy has been made easier in certain places and restrictions on civil society and media have been tightened. Meanwhile, the shift from criminal to civil sanctions means that the punishment does not always fit the crime.
Speakers Mark Francis, Director of Wholesale and Unauthorised Business Investigations, Financial Conduct Authority, London
Isabelle Scherf, Global Head of Financial Crime Compliance, Fidelity International, Luxembourg (by video)
Christopher Leahy, Specialist Advisor, Southeast Asia, ACGA; Managing Director, Blackpeak, Singapore
17:00 – 19:00
Cocktail Reception (The Waterloo Room)