Sat | Jun 24, 2017

Marlene Street Forrest | Listed companies living the best practices

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2017 | 1:00 AM

While as a country our macroeconomic and indeed our microeconomic conditions have improved, we are still a fragile country competing among global giants. In order to survive we must be twice as good and our companies must be able to compete with the best international companies. It is therefore imperative that our compasses move to that of living the best practices.

There is no magic wand that was waved which accounted for the improvements in our macroeconomic conditions. We understand that this was achieved through fiscal prudence and better governance, demonstrated not only by the Government but by our own listed companies and which have embraced the philosophy that good governance is the bedrock of sustainable development and longevity.

For regulated markets such as ours, best practices should be a core mission for all; that is, for our brokers dealers, the Jamaica Stock Exchange and our listed companies, as this goes hand in hand with our efforts to promote confidence, transparency and trust in our market, and by extension our economy. We understand that the changes that are to be made to achieve best practices and excellent results take time, energy and commitment, and that this is an investment similar, and I daresay, equal to that of the investments in plant, machinery and other physical assets.

Possibly, there should be a specific line item in the income statement accounting for the cost of good governance. We are, however, pleased that there are now many social tools to measure good governance and its impact.

In an attempt at continuing our efforts to achieve the best practices, last year we had a soft launch of the Corporate Governance Index (CGI) towards the end of the first quarter of 2016. This soft launch sensitised our listed companies about the components of µthe index and the measurement criteria. We are happy to report that we have had positive feedback and constructive comments from our listed companies. Further, significant strides have been made in the commissioning of an independent monitoring and evaluating committee for the CGI. We are pleased to report that the monitoring and evaluation will be accomplished through a body for which the PSOJ Corporate Governance Committee will have oversight responsibility. By September 2017, the index, which will be refreshed twice yearly, will be officially published. This, we believe, will have the power to raise to a higher level the country's overall corporate governance standards.

 

GLOBAL REACH

 

Our Best Practice Awards may be national in nature but our practices designed to achieve excellence are global in their reach and impact. Last year when we achieve the status of being the Best Performing Exchange in 2015, Bloomberg cited not only the performance in our index but made mention of our governance standards. This, I believe, is a powerful testimony of the importance of best practices.

Over the years, we continue to push the importance of best practices by businesses as a way of improving the investment climate. We wish to commend all the companies that are listed on the Exchange. Contrary to the opinion of some naysayers companies that are listed are at all times held at a higher standard than private companies, which is the reason we do not have more companies listed. Best practice is a condition of listing and remaining listed on the Exchange, and we applaud the companies that are listed and those that are contemplating listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Transitioning is not without its teething pains but it is certainly worth the premium received from attaining excellence.

We continue to hold these awards as a way of marking your journey and recognising not only the awardees but all of you who lead the daily fight for improvement. We know that the accolades received in previous years of being the best were not arrived at through any one person's solitary action. We are sure it is the collective energy of your teams that has allowed your companies to shine. We appreciate the power of continuous improvement.

We are indeed proud to have so many companies that have embraced the culture of best practices and are on a mission to change the economic landscape. As we continue to promote the importance of companies upholding the best practices within their organisation, The Best Practices Awards is simply a way to say we recognise what your companies are doing, and this is also an avenue where your colleagues and competitors can share with you in being recognised for excellence.

These awards would not have been possible without the commitment of our Best Practices Committee.

We call upon our leaders, the captain of many of the best-run, best-managed companies in this country to continue to strive for the best practices within your organisation by encouraging and nurturing a culture of good corporate governance and best practices.

- Marlene Street Forrest is general manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange.