The Company is listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange (“AIM”). As an AIM company the Company can elect which corporate governance code to follow.
The Company has decided to follow the Quoted Companies Alliance Corporate (“QCA”) Governance Code (the “QCA Code”). The QCA Code applies the principles of the UK Corporate Governance Code to small and medium-sized quoted companies, and is a comprehensive yet practical code for the Company to follow.
The Board of Directors (“the Board”) is committed to complying with both the letter and the spirit of the QCA Code. It believes that good governance is an essential basis on which to build its business and to sustain it over the long-term. The scope of the Company’s governance covers the interests of its shareholders, lenders, employees, clients, suppliers and, to the degree it can influence them given its size, the communities in which it operates. The Company endeavours to be fair and transparent in its dealings and communications with all stakeholders.
The Board believes that it complies with all of the principles of the QCA Code (and their application).
The Board comprises four Non-Executive Directors including the Non-Executive Chairman, and two Executive Directors, and has a mix of leadership, marketing and financial skills and experience:
Alex Hunt, President of the Research Business was appointed as an Executive Director on 7 February 2017 and resigned with effect from 30 September 2018.
The Board considers each of the Non-Executive Directors to be independent, for the following principal reasons:
The Company Secretary is also the Chief Financial Officer, as is the case with other companies of a similar size and complexity. It plans to split the roles when it reaches a size which warrants it.
The Board operates an induction programme for new Non-Executive Directors, reviews its AIM obligations with its Nominated Advisor annually, and endeavours to keep up with best practice governance via QCA seminars and training material.
The Board schedules regular monthly meetings during the year, with the exception of July or August, and additional ad hoc meetings as required.
The Chairman is responsible for leading the Board, setting its agenda and monitoring its effectiveness. The role of the Non-Executive Directors as a whole is to supportively challenge and help to develop the direction of the business, and also to assess the performance of management. The role of the Executive Directors is to manage the day-to-day business activities and implement the strategy. There is a clear division of responsibilities between the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer, and the responsibilities of each are set out here.
The Board discusses and reviews all matters and issues which are important to the business. Certain decisions are reserved for the Board and they can be found here.
The Board formally approves the appointment of all new Directors. Each year at the Annual General Meeting, all Directors retire by rotation and are subject to re-election.
Management provides the Board with information on the Company’s performance and appropriate information relating to the agenda prior to Board and Committee meetings.
The Audit Committee is responsible for ensuring the financial performance of the Company is properly monitored and reported on to shareholders, reviewing the Company’s financial systems and controls, and overseeing the Company’s risk management. Its members are:
The Audit Committee’s role and responsibilities are to:
The Audit Committee schedules two regular formal meetings per year and meets at other times as necessary.
The Remuneration Committee is responsible for determining the specific remuneration and incentive packages for each of the Company’s Executive Directors and keeping under review the remuneration of and benefits of all senior executives and managers and overall pay levels of all employees. Its members are:
The Remuneration Committee’s role and responsibilities are to:
The Remuneration Committee schedules two formal meetings per year and meets at other times as necessary.
The Board will be undertaking a review of its effectiveness for the first time, in the Company’s 2018/19 financial year. The Board will carry out further reviews of its effectiveness on an annual basis and will consider using an external adviser. The Company envisages that this evaluation process will bring to light possible changes which could make the Board’s activities and administration more effective and efficient, and will seek to implement them in an effort to continuously improve.
The Board Evaluation will cover the following areas:
Succession planning for appointments to the Board and to senior management is carried out in the following way.
The Board, led by the Chairman, carries out ongoing assessments as to the succession needs and planning of the Board. Such assessments include reviewing the structure, size and composition (including the skills, knowledge and experience) required of the Board compared to its current position. Such succession planning involves identification and nomination of candidates to fill Board vacancies as and when they arise, using external recruitment consultants.
Senior management appointments are made by the Executive Directors, who carry out ongoing assessments of succession needs and skills gaps across the business. Key appointments are overseen by the Remuneration Committee.
Details of the Company’s major shareholders can be found here. The Board endeavours to keep all interested shareholders informed by regular announcements and update statements. The Executive Directors meet regularly with institutional shareholders to understand their needs and expectations. They invite, and regularly receive, shareholder feedback and report it back to the Board. Other methods of communication are:
The Chairman and Senior Independent Director are available to meet with institutional shareholders on any concerns or issues in relation to governance, board composition, or executive director remuneration.
Shareholders who wish to contact the Company can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The prime stakeholders of the business, in addition to shareholders, are clients, employees, and suppliers.
The Company undertakes regular client feedback surveys (conducted by a third party) and employee feedback surveys (conducted anonymously). The results of both are shared with the Board, and actions are taken to address the issues raised. Employee feedback survey results are shared transparently with all employees.
Actions taken following client and employment feedback have included:
In addition, the Company maintains a senior level dialogue with its key strategic suppliers.
All Directors can access the Company’s advisors and obtain independent professional advice at the Company’s expense in performance of their duties as Directors. The Audit Committee works with the Company’s auditor, Grant Thornton. The Board liaises regularly with the Company’s Nominated Advisor, Canaccord Genuity to ensure compliance with AIM Rules.
All directors are familiar with the market in which the Company is operating, the Company’s value proposition, and its strategic intent.
The Board actively participates in setting, and regularly reviewing, the strategy of the business, and in how it is communicated in its Annual Report and Accounts. The Company sets out its strategy within the Chairman’s Statement, the Chief Executive’s Statement, and the Business and Financial Review of its Annual Report and Accounts, the latest of which can be found here.
The Board reviews the risks facing the business on a regular basis. The identified principal risks and uncertainties are outlined in the Business Risk Review section of the Annual Report and Accounts, which can be found here.
The Board is responsible for the Group’s system of internal controls and risk management, and for reviewing the effectiveness of these systems. These systems are designed to manage, rather than eliminate, the risk of failure to achieve business objectives, and to provide reasonable, but not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.
The key features of the Group’s internal controls are described below:
The Audit Committee reviews the auditors’ independence on a regular basis, and takes the following into account:
The Company endeavours to maintain a culture built on integrity. In order to surface unethical or deceitful behaviours, it promotes openness amongst its employees, provides channels for employees to feed back concerns to the Executive Directors and the Board (such as anonymous employee feedback surveys), and conducts exit interviews.
The Company has adopted a share dealing code for Directors and applicable employees, together with a group wide employee dealing policy in compliance with the EU Market Abuse Regulation and Rule 21 of the AIM Rules.
This information was last updated on 15 January 2019.
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