President’s speeches

MAISA Annual conference – July 2018

The Malaysian Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators
MAICSA Annual Conference Key-note Speech
Edith Shih, International President, ICSA

Good morning, fellow members, ladies & gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to be invited as the guest-of-honour at MAICSA’s annual conference. I would like to express my gratitude to Dato' Heng Ji Keng, President of MAICSA and Mr Vincent Tan, Chairman of the conference, for their kind invitation.

This is the first International conference at which I speak in my capacity as International President of The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, or ICSA, since my election to presidency on 1 July 2018.  MAICSA is an important division of ICSA with a long history going back to 1959.  This is a division that has been growing since inception as a result of the great efforts of MAICSA Presidents, Council and Committee members, Chief Executives as well as members at large in this division.

For those of you who do not quite know me yet, my day job is Executive Director and Company Secretary of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, a Fortune 500 company based in Hong Kong operating in over 50 countries, with an annual revenue as well as market capitalisation of about US$ 50 billion.  The entire CK Hutchison Group comprises 11 listed companies, listed on 6 stock exchanges with a total group market capitalisation of over US$ 110 billion.

I have been with my group for almost 30 years, with a portfolio covering legal, regulatory, corporate finance, corporate governance and compliance. I also have oversight of the management of the business operations of the group.

As the International President of ICSA for the coming two years, I would like to share with you the impetus list for ICSA that I have drawn up.  I am sure that all of us at MAICSA will work hand-in-hand with our other divisions around the world for our collective good as chartered secretaries and governance professionals.                 

During my election for Presidency, I have made it clear that I intend to continue the good work of my predecessors and the ICSA Council, building on the foundation and momentum that have been laid down for the future of our profession.  This will include ongoing and reinforced impetus on a number of areas.

First, diversity. ICSA will continue to position itself as a truly global organisation, characterised by unity in diversity based on mutual respect and co-operation between divisions with a truly international perspective.  We have approximately 30,000 members from over 80 countries, covering all five continents.  In this connection, we welcome ideas from all divisions on topics of interest relating to the chartered secretarial and governance landscape to explore commonalities and differences in perspectives to find emerging best practices.

We congratulate MAICSA with this conference which is consistent with bringing together common and diverse issues on topical governance matters. We will be encouraging all other divisions to do more of the same.

The second impetus is inclusivity.  Our members are not only found across the world, but are engaged in the widest variety of activities: the public sector, the private sector (listed and non-listed) and the non-governmental sector. ICSA will speak for and support chartered secretary and governance professionals in whichever sector they work.

These efforts will require each and everyone of us to faithfully adhere to good governance principles and to provide effective advice, and implement best business practices consistent with good governance, which ICSA will continuously underscore.

At The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries (HKICS), as ICSA’s China division, we have various panels and committees, and many of these involve business leaders who are passionate as to good governance. We reach out to regulators and have frequent interactions with them, and we are consulted by them on legislative and regulatory proposals. We also have members that serve pro-bono Government appointments, enhancing our reputation and contribution to the community.  I am certain that MAICSA has similar practices and relationship with our regulators here too.

These are all worthy approaches for all divisions to consider and to promote. We will be looking to generate mutually beneficial ideas amongst our divisions.

The third area of focus is relevance.  ICSA will continue to ensure that its work is relevant to the interests and needs of its members. We will be creative and flexible in helping our members realise the opportunities offered by the growing recognition of the importance of governance and the pivotal role of our profession. We will also collaborate with other leaders in this space.

ICSA, as the leading governance professional body, is founded on the excellent quality and standards of our members.  In addition to diversity, inclusivity and relevance, ICSA will continue to promote and ensure high professional standards amongst our members and divisions, including through education, standards setting and continuing professional training.

About 18 months ago, ICSA set up a Thought Leadership Committee at which divisions are represented.  I am the current chair of this Committee and our MAICSA representative is Prof Syed.  We will be releasing our first video: on the 21st Century Annual General Meeting, to be followed by Technology and how it affects our profession and our training, the minute writing report, board diversity and other papers. These will no doubt provide impetus for standards setting and efforts at local, regional and international levels.

Our fifth and final impetus is value.  We believe that ICSA must provide value to our divisions and our members to prosper. Recognising that the funding of ICSA ultimately comes from individual members, ICSA must provide value for money. All expenditure must be directed towards delivering benefits to our members. 

Going forward, we will focus on exploiting revenue-generating opportunities so there would be adequate funding to expand our horizons and brand, connect with our members and generate thought leadership activities, without having to increase the levies on the divisions. 

Our first Thought Leadership project, the 21st Century AGM is the first ICSA project completed with part external sponsorship.  Setting aside monetary considerations, we must not forget the supreme value in the ICSA qualification, which is the portability of our qualification that is recognised in all 80 plus countries within the ICSA family.

To achieve the aforementioned impetus as to diversity, inclusivity, relevance, quality and value, we will be striving to first, implement the mandate conferred by our members on the new strategic development – the second designation ‘Chartered Governance Professional’ qualification, and affiliated membership, in addition to the Chartered Secretary qualification which we currently have.

For this second designation, we have consulted widely with our stakeholders, including our members and regulators amongst our individual divisions. As ICSA positions itself as the governance institute, we have sought and already obtained approval from the Privy Council for the second designation of Chartered Governance Professional. As an update, we are now targeting for full implementation of this second designation by 2020, and it is possible that some divisions might have already done so during 2019.

In conjunction with the creation of the second designation, we also need to determine our brand strategy and if appropriate, a name change of ICSA.  I am pleased to advise that ICSA has, on Friday last, obtained Privy Council approval for the proposed new name, The Chartered Governance Institute.  

ICSA is open to divisions to consider a re-focusing of their brands to governance which is a wider remit and inclusive of the chartered secretary function. We welcome divisions to adopt the approach that is best for them.  The change of name is not a mandatory proposition but we will assist divisions in name change delivery if requested.

Having said this, I do understand that MAICSA has, earlier this year, engaged a brand expert to assist with a re-branding exercise.  I wish you every success in this exercise and I look forward to learning from you the development in due course.

In addition to a rebranding exercise, we shall be growing ICSA by developing new markets, as well as strengthening existing ones, including, subject to readiness, conducting examinations in local languages and/or with local variants. For example, in this geographic area, China is a market that we can work further upon; and perhaps Indonesia and Thailand as well. We have already harmonised the syllabi and examinations amongst a few divisions for efficiency and resources polling.  I understand MAICSA, Singapore and China divisions are collaborating on adopting a common system, in conjunction with UKRIAT division.

Furthermore, we will also seek to promote member value through (i) enhancement of continuing education courses/seminars including training in soft and practical skills as well as (ii) the implementation of exchange programmes. 

We will be organising Institute conferences and thought leadership activities, with the first corporate governance conference to be held to coincide with the launch of the new qualifying programme.  Our objectives are to raise awareness and profile and promote our wider remit of governance and hopefully at the same time, generate working capital for ICSA. The first event will take the form of a joint International Corporate Governance Conference with HKICS in Beijing in March 2019.  We hope to see you there.

Finally, I take it upon my responsibility to expand our out-reach activities to enhance, amongst others, Institute reputation and standing focusing on (i) the divisions, (ii) governance collaborators and professional institutions; as well as (iii) global regulators and thought leaders on governance.  That is exactly why I am here to meet with all of you today!  Next month, I will be visiting and speaking at conferences in the Southern Africa and Zimbabwe divisions.

I wish to close with a note of appreciation for Prof Syed, Mrs YC Chan and the previous Malaysian representative on ICSA Council, Prof Hafidz – who are always ready to share their wisdom and strategic thoughts with me.  Thank you comrade, from the bottom of my heart, for standing by me.

I know I can count on MAICSA for your continued support and collaboration in delivering the ICSA impetus.  Thank you.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

10 July 2018